IOWA DERECHO 2020

Cedar Rapids dad: 'All our food is gone. It's pretty devastating'

Hy-Vee, HACAP offer free hot dogs, other food, as neighbors struggle with no power

Corey Howrey (left) and his son, Raiden, 5, grab free hot dogs Friday from the First Avenue Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids. Hy-V
Corey Howrey (left) and his son, Raiden, 5, grab free hot dogs Friday from the First Avenue Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids. Hy-Vee was able to open the urban store on Thursday after the state provided a generator. Hy-Vee decided to grill the hot dogs Friday, knowing the neighborhoods around the store were hard hit by the Monday storm and that many are without power and, in some cases, without food. (Grace King/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — A free hot dog, chips and a bottle of water was just what Corey Howrey said he and his four children needed Friday.

Hy-Vee on First Avenue East handed out 1,000 free hot dogs to the store’s neighbors, many of whom haven’t had power since Monday’s “land hurricane” and have had to throw out the food that had been in their freezers and refrigerators.

“Everyone is in need,” he said, as he stood in line outside the store with this kids, ages 5 to 13.

FOOD, WATER, MEALS: Where to get food, water and free meals in the Cedar Rapids area

Andy Streit, Hy-Vee district store director, said the Iowa Department of Transportation drove a generator to the First Avenue Hy-Vee, allowing it to reopen Thursday morning.

“It was so important to get this store open in the neighborhood,” he said, noting two customers cried as they thanked him for opening.

Seeing the desperate need for food in the neighborhood, Streit thought a hot dog cookout was one thing the store’s workers could do.

“A lot of people haven’t had anything for a few days,” he said.

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The urban store, in the 1500 block of First Avenue East, sits between the Wellington Heights neighborhood in southeast Cedar Rapids and the Mound View neighborhood in northeast Cedar Rapids. The area has — or had — hundreds of mature shade trees that fell in Monday’s derecho, blocking streets and bringing down power lines.

Sailu Timbo, Hy-Vee vice president of community and diversity, drove to Cedar Rapids from West Des Moines Friday to help grill the hot dogs.

“This is a really important community, and they need our help,” Timbo said.

Heather Howard arrived at the store with a dozen people who live at The Sanctuary, a discipleship school in northwest Cedar Rapids. The Sanctuary was hit hard by the storm, with roof damage and no power, she said. .

“I was sitting there thinking, ‘What are we going to do for lunch?’ ” she said. “It’s a blessing.

Mary Walker, as she stood in line for a hot dog, said she had no food left at home.

“It’s something to fill me up,” Walker said.

Her house in southeast Cedar Rapids has tree damage and no electricity, which means she can’t use any of the medical equipment that helps her breathe. While she was standing in line, she had to pause and use an inhaler to catch her breath.

‘I can feed my kids’

Across town at the Veterans Memorial Stadium parking lot off Rockford Road SW, employees of Hy-Vee and HACAP — the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program — handed out free food and water to 1,000 more households for the second consecutive day.

Hy-Vee donated 150,000 bottles of water, 80,000 protein bars, apples, oranges, peanut butter, chips and milk, said Kristy Staker, Hy-Vee community relations director.

In the coming days, they plan on returning and handing out food in neighborhoods hit hardest by the Monday store and that are still without power, Staker said.

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Melissa Jones, who lives in southwest Cedar Rapids, waited in line in her car for food with her children, ages 9 and 2.

The food at home had spoiled, and Friday was the first time they were able to get to food, she said.

“I’m really happy,” Jones said. “I may be able to feed my kids something.”

Billy Hanover, who lives in northeast Cedar Rapids, was picking up food for his wife and three children, ages 6 to 18.

He and his 10-year-old son were out with a hand saw Tuesday morning, helping cut and haul branches to the curb. His 6-year-old daughter is scared, he said.

“All our food is gone. It’s pretty devastating,” Hanover said. “When you’re struggling, and you have nothing, anything helps.”

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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