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Some day shelters in place; no overnight shelters after storm

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 10:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Willis Dady serves the homeless population in Cedar Rapids. Its buildings have some damage and there’s no power. Even in its less-than-normal-state, the shelter was able to take in a few more people after the derecho hit, but it’s now almost at full capacity.

With more than 85,000 people in Linn County still without power as of Wednesday, medically-fragile people are running out of options.

Linn County Emergency Management said while it’s assessing the need for shelters, a lot of the places they would normally set up have lost power or were otherwise damaged by the storm. Coordinator Steve O’Konek said the pandemic is also making it difficult to organize shelters. They need a big facility to allow for social distancing, and one with power.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Marion, but they can only allow 15 people in the space at a time due to the pandemic. People can get their phones charged, but if they need shelter overnight, the Red Cross is putting people in hotels. They’ve housed 55 people so far.

The team at Willis Dady understands the difficulty of providing shelter under these conditions.

“We’re operating as normal as we can. Without power it’s kind of difficult, but our staff has really stepped up to the plate,” Denine Rushing, shelter services director, said.

They also have a day center anyone can come to if they need a place to stay safe during the day.

Linn County Emergency Management posted a list of day centers open for people to charge medical equipment.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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