One week after Geneva Tower fire, residents still waiting to go home

Many are still displaced after the fire at Geneva Tower in downtown Cedar Rapids one week ago Sunday.
Published: Feb. 27, 2022 at 10:56 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - One Cedar Rapids woman is without a home right now because of the fire at Geneva Tower one week ago, but she’s grateful for her temporary shelter.

We first met Barbara Sierra Feb. 20 outside Veritas Church in the hours after she’d evacuated her home.

“I had never been in a fire before so I was nervous and upset and everything so my blood sugar shot over 525,” Sierra said. “They had to take me to the hospital.”

Sierra said her apartment in Geneva Tower wasn’t just her home; it was her first home.

“This was my first apartment all by myself as an adult and I just got the few things in there that I got from a church and stuff so I hope I don’t have to start all over again,” Sierra said.

Sierra has now spent the week at the Red Cross shelter in the Veterans Memorial Building. On Sunday, she said she was still anxious, but that she’s handling her stress. She added that the help she’s gotten from groups like Salvation Army and the American Red Cross has made the situation a lot better.

“They’re feeding us good. They even gave us a $100 voucher to go to Salvation Army to get clothes,” Sierra said. “So I was able to get some clean clothes to wear. That was nice.”

Julie Schulte is the Disability Integration Manager at the shelter. She said this particular disaster was unique because of those who lived in Geneva Tower: seniors and adults with disabilities.

“The population at these apartments had many medical and mental health needs, more than I’ve seen at any other disaster. This is my 21st disaster. Usually, it’s about 10 to 15% of the population that needs this kind of help,” Schulte said. “With this population, it’s about 90%.”

As for Sierra, she is looking forward to going back home as soon as possible.

“The first thing I’m going to do is take me a nice long hot soak in the tub,” Sierra said.

The owners of the property, Affordable Housing Network, Inc., last provided an update Feb. 22. It said there were still no move-in dates.

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