IOWA DERECHO 2020

For one Cedar Rapids couple, a slow recovery after derecho, COVID-19

Myrtle Ross of Cedar Rapids hugs a family member after being released from Mercy Medical Center on Oct. 2 in Cedar Rapid
Myrtle Ross of Cedar Rapids hugs a family member after being released from Mercy Medical Center on Oct. 2 in Cedar Rapids. She was in the hospital 66 days with COVID-19. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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The Aug. 10 derecho toppled a tree that fell on top of William and Myrtle Ross’ mobile home in Cedar Rapids.

It punched a hole through the kitchen’s roof. It tore off the home’s back door.

At the time, 65-year-old Myrtle Ross was in the hospital with COVID-19. She spent 66 days in Mercy Medical Center, which included several weeks on a ventilator in August while in a medically induced coma.

She was released from the hospital Oct. 2, and the couple moved into a hotel room.

What’s happened since

The Rosses are still living in a hotel room, wondering if they’ll ever be able to move back to their home in the Cedar Terrace Mobile Home Park in northwest Cedar Rapids.

William Ross, 71, said he’s struggled to find the help he needs to finish repairing his home, most likely because of the high demand for those services after the derecho.

Because the Rosses didn’t have insurance on their mobile home, they’d hope to apply for individual assistance funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency or obtain a small business loan. In order to apply for that aid, they need a contractor’s written estimate for the cost of repairs.

“Most don’t work on mobile homes,” William Ross said. “I’ve called people who never show up, or other people are busy until April of next year.”

They still hope to repair their home, but its condition has worsened as the weeks have passed, introducing new issues such as mold. The Rosses are now considering their options.

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“We’re getting about ready to walk away from it because I’m not getting any results, and I keep running into roadblocks,” William Ross said. “There’s always something stopping me.”

Myrtle Ross still is recovering from the virus. She relies on supplemental oxygen and needs a walker or a wheelchair, but William said she’s otherwise received good prognoses from her nurses and therapists.

William Ross said he and his wife are applying for housing assistance to find a new home and hope to tap other local services for help. More than anything, he said, they “just need things to click into place.”

“I would hate to see (the mobile home) go,” William Ross said. “We had a pretty good life going, everything was going smooth. But between (Myrtle’s) illness and the storm blowing through, it’s been kind of ruined.”

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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