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A long road to recovery for some eastern Iowans impacted by storms

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 4:59 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - It’s been two weeks since the derecho destroyed many homes and people’s livelihoods, and in many cases, people are still in the same predicament as when the storm first hit without shelter, food, and some with power still. The question now for many is what’s next?

“Were on our own,” said Billy Fuller, a resident of the Oak Village Senior Residences in Marion last week when the complex was still with no power. “I’ve been out of oxygen for three days.”

“I’m from Africa. My English is no good,” said a resident at Cedar Terrace during an interview with TV9 at the Cedar Terrace apartments. “Too much people sleeping outside. No good.”

The Cedar Terrace complex was one of the hardest hit places.

For days after the storm, families were living in tents. Seniors at Oak Village Senior residences in Marion were sleeping in their cars to charge their breathing machines, and struggling to get food.

Today for some not much has changed. Buildings at Cedar Terrace are now placarded, and any signs of life are nearly non-existent.

“Knowing the number of barriers that refugees and immigrants face in accessing a number of mainstream services that are available we wanted to open up a shelter,” said Sara Zejnic, the Director for refugee and Immigrant Services at the Catherine McAuley Center.

The center has provided temporary shelter since last week to 53 residents, from Cedar Terrace and other locations. 30 to 35 people have been staying at their shelter a night.

Zejnic says they have been flooded with outside donations, but still the long term needs are going to be a challenge.

“We’re really trying look at what does it mean for moving forward. What does long term housing look like, and what kind of case management support is needed,” she said. “”How can we make sure refugees and immigrants that have lost a lot are able to access services in the community and how can we partner.”

At Oak Village, power is back but residents say they are now trying to find ways to get to the store and get money to replace their food. On top of that, the nearby Hyvee drugstore where many got their medications is closed permanently.

The McAuley Center says for now monetary donations are the best way to help them with buying supplies as needs arise. The United Way Disaster Fund is one way to do just that.

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