Community meeting looks at impact of equity on disaster recovery after derecho

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - More than 50 people joined a virtual meeting Tuesday to talk about equity issues in recovery from the 2020 derecho.

The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation hosted the conversation.

”You know those with financial and personal resources are able to speed along their recovery and some people get stuck waiting for FEMA and figuring out how they will access the financial resources,” Karla Twedt-Ball, the senior vice president of programs and community investment at the foundation, said.

Recovering from the storm has been especially difficult for people with fewer financial resources.

”We still have a lot of our very-low-income homeowners and mobile homeowners that are really struggling to make whole again,” J’nae Peterman, director of housing services at Waypoint, said.

Video of the owner of a mobile home shown during the meeting offered insight. The pandemic left her without a job and insurance.

“I had a tree on the truck, had a tree on the car, had a tree right here couldn’t get outside my home. Had a tree out the back door, couldn’t get out the back,” the woman described.

With no assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she turned to local resources to help. Waypoint put her in touch with Matthew 25 who helped make repairs like fixing her roof.

Nonprofit groups created programs like PATCH to help with home repairs after the storm, to date they’ve helped 294 homeowners. It’s one of the local resources still available to people today.

”One of the things that I would say is that as people are seeing people, meeting with people that have some sort of need, any need, call Waypoint,” Ashley Balius, community outreach and assistance director at Linn County Community Services, said.

Waypoint has become the central contact for people in need, to get connected to help.

”There is still help and that they can still reach out to get assistance,” Peterman said.

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