Housing issues following August 10th derecho

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 4:46 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After the August 10th derecho severally damaged much of Eastern Iowa, the city of Cedar Rapids assessed housing damage and needs.

Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt said 85 people expressed various housing needs. Seven buildings were destroyed, 107 were placarded, and more than 700 had severe damage.

“The derecho was very devastating to the community,” said Denine Rushing, Willis Dady Shelter Service Director.

Rushing said they’ve had nearly two dozen people come to their shelter after the storm made their homes uninhabitable.

“We are just about full, but not quite,” she said.

That was only a portion of the 85 people the city said needed assistance with housing right after the storm. The overflow shelter was now a 24-hour shelter, and the amount of time someone can stay was extended until repairs to homes can be made.

“We’re hopeful that a lot of these rental units that have minor damage from the storm were getting repaired and would be available again,” said Pratt.

Pratt said the number of people in need as well as the available 130 rental properties in all of the Cedar Rapids Metro area were preliminary numbers and were continually changing.

“Finding that immediate shelter was very important for the people who couldn’t stay in their units,” said Pratt. “We used a combination of actual shelters as well as hotel rooms.”

Pratt said FEMA Public Assistance and non-profit groups were paying for the various housing costs. The hope was to re-access the damage in 60 to 90 days to see how repairs to buildings with only minor damage were coming along.

“The city is going to be hiring some professional services to make sure that we’re going out to these properties that were heavily damaged and checking in,” said Pratt. "They will be looking at not only the status of the property but also the status of the household. We’re hoping to learn if temporary housing was needed and how well insurance has been helping.

For, now, Rushing said Willis Dady would keep space open where they can, but also doing this while keeping social distancing in place.

“We’re talking with other shelters daily,” she said. “We’re not at capacity because we have to make sure that we are operating safely for the clients as well as the staff.”

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