Number of people facing homelessness estimated to have doubled by derecho damage
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - While assessments and repairs are happening following the August 10 derecho, some families either have to stay long term in a hotel, move in with friends or family, or stay in a shelter.
Anna Baskerville lived in the Arrowridge & Shamrock Apartments in Cedar Rapids for seven years, but she had two days to evacuate due to mold mitigation after the derecho.
“I was more what am I going to do, where am I going, what is the next step,” Baskerville said.
Baskerville’s church helped her and her husband with a hotel stay while they figure out a long-term solution. Their situation is hardly uncommon; driving around Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area, you see roofs and walls missing from entire apartment complexes.
“Obviously the state of homelessness has grown. We have estimated around 400 homeless families currently,” J’nae Peterman, director of housing services at Waypoint, said.
Peterman said that’s double Waypoint’s average “street count” in Cedar Rapids.
“Now that doesn’t mean they are sleeping in shelters or sleeping outside, but have relocated temporarily to double up with friends or family while their units are being fixed or while they work to identify a new unit,” Peterman said.
On Monday, Peterman said Waypoint, along with other homeless services met with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city of Cedar Rapids, and Linn County officials to develop a plan to address the now growing homeless population. She said, collectively, they are trying to create a community assessment to identify how they, together, can best help.
“We do need to know what people are needing out there, a lot of people are comparing this to the flood, but it’s so widespread, it’s a completely different disaster. So we do need to know what people are needing,” Peterman said.
Peterman said they are also working on a centralized system for those in need of shelter. Right now, people have to contact different agencies depending on their needs. While there’s room at the Red Cross temporary shelter at the Vet’s Memorial Building in Cedar Rapids, people need a long term solution for their possessions.
“One need that we are identifying is storage units. So we are working to identify storage units that people can put their belongings in safely while their units are fixed or rehabbed,” Peterman said.
Baskerville never thought she’d be in this situation, but with her faith family supporting her, she said she’s focusing on gratitude.
“Yeah I lost an apartment, I lost a lot of things, but it’s material, I don’t need it. I need my husband, I need God and I need a smile on my face,” Baskerville said.
For emergency shelter, contact Waypoint Services: 319-366-7999 or 319-365-1458
Red Cross: call 319-393-3500 or 1-800-RED-CROSS
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