IOWA DERECHO 2020

Iowa storm updates: Latest info on recovery efforts in the Cedar Rapids area, Aug. 26

Here is the latest news on recovery efforts, cleanup and help in the Cedar Rapids area for Tuesday, Aug. 24, in the aftermath of the Aug. 10 derecho. The Gazette staff will update this with new information as it becomes available. 

» FINANCIAL AID: How to apply for FEMA other financial aid for storm victims

» TREE DEBRIS DROP-OFF: Locations in the Cedar Rapids area 

» HOW TO HELP: Where to donate to help storm victims

» MORE RESOURCES: For residents affected by the storm, including tree removal help

» FOOD AND SHELTER: List of food distribution sites, shelter and cooling stations

Project ReConnect helps restore power to homes with damaged electrical connections

Project ReConnect has been formed to bring electricity to Alliant Energy customers still without power because of storm-damaged equipment on their homes.

The program will help Alliant Energy customers reconnect personally owned exterior electrical systems, including the meter box, service mast and weatherhead, to restore power to their homes at no cost. Alliant Energy customers responsible for their own utilities and need financial assistance to pay for these repairs are encouraged to contact HACAP to apply. Income guidelines apply to those approved.

To receive assistance through Project ReConnect, customers can contact HACAP at 319-739-0056.

Project ReConnect has been formed in partnership with the Alliant Energy Foundation, United Way of East Central Iowa (UWECI), HACAP, and the Local Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LLMCC).

The Alliant Energy Foundation is seeding the project with an initial $60,000 for the Cedar Rapids area and is matching any employee gift 2:1 for this fund. UWECI is allocating $40,000 from the Disaster Recovery Fund to Project ReConnect, to bring the initial total to $100,000 in support of the community.

The combined funding from Alliant Energy and UWECI will help HACAP handle case management and dispatch electricians to customers. The Local Labor Management Cooperation Committee (LLMCC) has committed to providing $25,000 to Project ReConnect to pay for materials. The LLMCC is comprised of local union electrical contractors who employ IBEW Local 405 electricians. These contractors will be offering a discounted rate on their time in efforts to stretch the dollars further. 

Disaster relief assistance available at Teamsters Hall

People who are still in need of assistance after the Aug. 10 derecho can still stop by the Teamsters Hall, 5000 J St. SW in Cedar Rapids, from noon to 4:30 p.m. every day. Volunteers and donations also are needed and can be received during the same hours.

The Teamsters Union partnered with other unions and community members to open a disaster relief center last week. Thousands of people affected by the storm have come through to pick up food, water, tarps, flashlights, diapers, and other essentials. The Teamsters have also been delivering essential goods into neighborhoods for people without transportation.

Cooling station, splash pads open for residents to stay cool

The cooling station at the U.S. Cellular Center will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for the rest of the week. This location also doubles as a no-cost cellphone charging and WiFi station.

Three splash pads are open in Cedar Rapids:

• Twin Pines (3500 42nd St. NE)

• Hayes Park (1924 D St. SW)

 Hidder Park (1248 10th St. SE)

Tree debris update: Cleanup time estimate should come this week

Crews in Cedar Rapids continued to work over the weekend on picking up curbside piles of tree debris. As of Monday morning, approximately 48,000 tons of debris have been collected. Crews have completed their first pass on collecting curbside tree debris from about 20 percent of city roadways. A progress map can be found on the city’s website.

There is still a massive volume of debris on many streets. Please continue to use caution while driving by reducing speeds and being cautious when backing out of driveways. The city has hired a new contractor that specializes in high-volume debris removal whose contract will last the duration of the city's clean-up needs. As work begins this week, the city expects to be able to provide an estimated timeline for completion.

During the hot weather this week, residents may see vapor rising off the piles of mulch at our drop-off sites. This is normal; mulch begins to steam as the wood decomposes in hot weather.

EBT cards can be used to purchase hot food in Linn County 

The Department of Human Services is making a temporary rule change to allow Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) recipients to purchase hot foods with their Food Assistance benefits in Linn County.

The presidential disaster proclamation following the Aug. 10 derecho allows federal programs to alter or change their rules as communities recover from a disaster. Ordinarily excluded from eligibility, this waiver allows foods such as deli counter items, prepared pizza, and other hot meals to be purchased with EBT or P-EBT benefits from Aug. 24 through Sept. 21, 2020.

Families can use their EBT or P-EBT cards and can make the purchases at any participating retailer in Linn County. This waiver is only available for Linn County. Recipients can use the USDA's SNAP retailer locator to find all participating retailers.

For more information on DHS derecho resources, visit the department's website.

Eligible homes can apply for free repairs from Matthew 25

Homes damaged during the derecho may be eligible for free home repairs from Matthew 25.

To qualify applicants must own their home, have damage from the derecho that insurance won't cover and earn under 80% of median income. 

Apply at hub25.org/housing-neighborhoods/derecho-disaster-relief

Initial projects will be selected by Aug. 28, so please apply as soon as possible. More projects will be added as funding and volunteers become available.

Loans available for businesses, residents through Small Business Administration

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Iowa businesses and residents as a result of President Trump’s major disaster declaration. Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

To apply:

 Visit disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/s, click "Apply Online" and follow the registration process and fill out the application.

 For questions, call 916-735-1500 or email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov.

» More financial help: How to apply for FEMA, other financial aid for storm victims

How to apply for FEMA assistance

Those who suffered losses in Linn County can begin applying for assistance by:

Calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 for TTY users. Users of 711 or Video Relay Service may call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers operate from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Iowa time seven days a week for now.

Or register online at DisasterAssistance.gov.

You’ll need this information to complete your registration:

 Social Security Number (SSN) OR the SSN of a minor child in the household who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien

 Annual household income

 Contact information: Phone number, mailing address, email address*, and damaged home address (*You must provide an email address if you want to review your registration status online. If you do not provide an email address, you will be required to contact FEMA for any updates to your registration.)

 Insurance Information (coverage, insurance company name, etc.)

 Bank account information (if you are eligible to receive financial assistance, the money can be deposited in your account)

» More financial help: How to apply for other financial aid for storm victims

Recycling pickup resumes Monday, yard waste pickup restarts Aug. 31

The Solid Waste and Recycling Division will begin collecting recycling containers again starting Monday, Aug. 24.

Customers can place any recycling items that do not fit in their CURBY cart in a large cardboard box. The crews will collect the box and its contents for free along with other recycling on their regular collection day. 

The city expects to resume collection of the green yard waste – or YARDY – carts starting the week of Aug. 31.

The city also is working to remove non-tree-related storm debris and materials damaged in the storm and plans to begin collecting these items the week of Aug. 31. Place storm debris at the curb in separate piles from tree debris. 

Please do NOT dispose of lithium ion batteries in your cart or in debris piles. These require special disposal at the Solid Waste Agency at 1954 County Home Road, Marion. Details: solidwasteagency.org/recycling/batteries-bulbs-sharps.

How to verify if contractors are licensed in Iowa

Any general contractor doing work locally is required to be licensed and registered through the State of Iowa. Cedar Rapids and Marion have created ways to help verify if your contractor is able to work in Iowa. Visit medcoiowa.org/disasterrecovery or call the Cedar Rapids Building Services Department at 319-286-5929, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.

What you need to know about permits for repair, demolition work

Call before digging: The Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) reminds anyone whose restoration efforts involve digging to call 811 or visit the Iowa One Call website for information on scheduling a utility locate before beginning a project.

IN CEDAR RAPIDS:

Home Repair Permits: Permits are required for home repairs, including roof or structural repairs, or substantial interior repairs. Your contractor is responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits from our Building Services department. The City is doing everything possible to expedite these permits so residents and their contractor can begin repairs immediately.

Additional questions about permits can be directed to our Building Services Department at 286-5831.

Demolitions: For safety, proper utility disconnections must be verified prior to demolition, which is part of the permit process. For any questions related to the permit process, please contact Building Services at 319-286-5831.

IN MARION:

Emergency repair work can begin without a permit. However, building permits are required for home repairs, including roof or structural repairs, or substantial interior repairs. Contractors are responsible for obtaining the appropriate permits from the City of Marion.

Permits are not required for tree removal. A list of local and registered non-local tree removal companies is linked at cityofmarion.org/StormResponse. Be sure to check this list as you consider entering into agreements with non-local companies that you may not be familiar with.

More information about building permits is available at cityofmarion.org. Questions may be directed to the Building Services Division at 319-743-6330.

Placards: Some buildings have been placarded with yellow and red cards. A yellow placard indicates home/business owners can enter at their own risk, making it permissible to go in and collect belongings. A red placard indicates a structural or electrical issue and it is not safe to enter. Only qualified contractors are permitted to enter.

Inspections: Building inspections are being handled in order of necessity (i.e. electrical, concrete/foundation work and underground plumbing). The department expects regular inspections will resume by the end of the week.

Rental inspections will be delayed for at least six weeks. The City will be communicating with landlords to clarify the responsibilities of tenants and owners.

Neighborhood Resource Centers in Cedar Rapids

Five Neighborhood Resource Centers are open to residents in the Cedar Rapids area. The centers are open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily until at least Aug. 30 and are staffed with city employees and volunteers. The sites will provide food and daily updates on services for residents. Additional resources will continue to be added including supplies for clean-up, and legal and mental health assistance. The updates will be translated into French, Spanish, Swahili and Kirundi. The translated updates will be available at the sites a day after the English version to allow time for translation.

• Ladd Library, 3750 Williams Blvd SW

• Northwest Recreation Center parking lot, 1340 11th St. NW

• St. Paul’s Methodist Church, 1340 Third Ave. SE

• Taylor Elementary School, 720 Seventh Ave. SW

• Metro High School, 1212 Seventh St. SE

The sites are coordinated by Linn Area Partners Active in Disaster organizations. Services will transition as additional resident needs are assessed.

Overnight shelter still open in Cedar Rapids

An overnight shelter is available in Cedar Rapids at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 50 Second Ave. Bridge. Shelters in Palo and Marion have been closed, since the need for the shelter has diminished, officials said. 

Protocols are in place to ensure social distancing and additional steps are taken to maintain a safe environment in the shelter due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone in need of assistance can call 1-800-RED-CROSS and select option “4,” then option “2,” then option “2” again, and provide information on their location so appropriate services can be arranged.

Iowa hotline, website available for mental health help

COVID Recovery Iowa is responding to the mental health needs of Iowans impacted by the recent storm. Help is available by contacting the Iowa Concern Hotline.

Iowans in need of assistance can contact the Iowa Concern Hotline at 800-447-1985 or go to covidrecoveryiowa.org. Program staff can also provide referrals and information about programs that will help Iowans manage stress, family financial and farm financial concerns.

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