Family struggling to manage health conditions after days of no power

Published: Aug. 18, 2020 at 6:41 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Families across eastern Iowa are struggling in many ways following last week’s powerful storm, and the Meeks family in Cedar Rapids knows what it’s like to struggle.

They lost two sons to gun violence, the first in 2011 and again in 2017.

The Meeks, originally from Chicago, said the only reason they are still in Cedar Rapids is that they are waiting for justice in one of their son’s case. They said every day since their loss has been a struggle and last week’s storm piled onto their pain.

Sitting on their front porch in the Oakhill-Jackson neighborhood, Rochelle Meeks, her 15-year-old son Michael and husband EJ are thankful for Tuesday’s cooler weather. But, for Rochelle, she’s still not comfortable.

“I feel bad and in a lot of pain,” Rochelle said. “My body is like shut down.”

Rochelle suffers from a long list of medical problems like lupus, asthma, diabetes, and has tubes in her heart. Now, on day eight with no power, her health is becoming more of a concern.

“I have to have my breathing machine, I can’t take that because the lights are out,” Rochelle said.

Unable to use her daily breathing treatment, she said an inhaler is getting her by for now, but she’s worried if they continue without power, she’ll have just one option.

“If it comes down to my health, I will have to go to the hospital, I would have to go to the ER,” Rochelle said.

In addition to his wife, EJ said he’s concerned about money. They lost $500 in food. Monday night the family got to spend the night in a hotel, thanks to a gift from EJ’s employers at 30hop. But, with COVID-19 and Rochelle’s weak immune system, she said she feels safest at home.

“Once I get sick, it’s hard for me to heal as quickly as a person that doesn’t have my medical problems,” Rochelle said.

The family said they keep their front porch light switched on, so when it illuminates it will be an immediate sign of relief.

“I just want to just pray to god that things get better, because we are suffering,” Rochelle said.

Rochelle said she feels lower-income families are particularly struggling and the Oakhill-Jackson neighborhood is often forgotten about, especially right now.

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