116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Volunteers met at Clean Laundry at 1420 First Ave. NE Friday afternoon to wash laundry for displaced Geneva Tower residents.
The residents were evacuated during a fire just after midnight Sunday, and many have been staying at a shelter set up by the Red Cross in the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Affordable Housing Network, which owns Geneva Tower, sent professional cleaners into the apartments that had water damage to collect clothing, bedding, stuffed animals and whatever else needed to be washed, according to Debbie Craig, chief advocacy officer for Affordable Housing Network.
Craig said they collected about 75 large bags of laundry, mostly from apartments that were underneath the unit where the fire started.
The laundry was taken to the laundromat and washed by 15 volunteers from Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust and Trinity Presbyterian Church.
Clean Laundry allowed the volunteers to use their machines for free, and Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust donated the laundry detergent. Scooters Coffee provided free coffee for the volunteers.
Cheri Monahan with Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust said she reached out to Affordable Housing Network — a customer of the bank’s — to ask if there was anything the bank could do to help Geneva residents. She was sent a sign-up sheet looking for volunteers to help with the laundry.
Moving back home
Affordable Housing Network is working individually with residents — many of whom are older or have disabilities — to determine when they will be able to move back into the building, or if they will need to be moved elsewhere.
Craig said removing the wet things from apartments to wash them was part of the process of cleaning and preparing those units to be rehabilitated for residents. Some of the water-damaged units will be receiving new carpet and may need other work done.
Pami Erickson, executive director of the Eastern Iowa Red Cross Chapter, said the Red Cross intends to keep running the shelter as long as necessary.
The Affordable Housing Network has not given a date yet for when residents will be able to move back in, but did say in a news release that it will continue to work with community service providers to deliver support services for residents staying at the shelter over the weekend.
Salvation Army has been working with the Red Cross to deliver meals to the shelter. Willie Ray’s Q Shack also donated a meal on Wednesday.
Geneva Tower rents to low-income seniors and adults with disabilities. It is home to 160 residents, all of whom were displaced by the fire.
The apartment building passed its annual fire inspection on Feb. 15, the Tuesday before the fire. The city inspection report obtained by The Gazette outlines a few minor infractions that needed to be addressed, including combustible items being stored in front of electrical panels, a couple of fire doors which were left open and a fire pump which was overdue for service but still operational.
The cause of the fire still is under investigation by the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.
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