CEDAR RAPIDS — Shelter is available to those impacted by last week’s derecho.
American Red Cross Regional Communications Director Josh Murray said two shelters were opened last week in Linn County.
One is at Veterans Memorial Building, 50 Second Ave. Bridge in Cedar Rapids. The other is at the Palo Community Center off Shellsburg Road at 2800 Hollenbeck Road. in Palo
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Murray said the capacity at Veterans Memorial originally was 60 people, but another floor was opened and the capacity increased to 150. The population at the Cedar Rapids shelter was 48 people overnight, Murray said.
“We have plenty of capacity,” he said.
As of Monday, there have been 85 overnight stays between the two shelters, Murray said.
The Palo Community Center also has a capacity of 150, but numbers of people staying there have been in the single digits the past few nights, Murray said.
The shelter is open to anyone impacted by the storm and all residents need to do is show up, Murray said. Anyone who arrives at the shelter will be asked for some basic information and given a cot.
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“After that, we have case workers who will work with each person,” Murray said. “They can help you try to come up with a plan for recovery.”
Those staying at the shelter will have access to electricity for charging phones, laptops and other items. The American Red Cross also can help recover lost medication and meet other needs, Murray said.
The space is set up for social distancing, including the dining area, Murray said. Everyone who enters the building is wearing masks, he added. Extra sanitizing and disinfecting measures are in place and cots are being sent off to be cleaned before they are used again.
“We want it to be a safe environment for everyone,” Murray said.
Murray said the American Red Cross also is placing those without shelter in hotel rooms. Throughout Eastern Iowa, 121 people had been placed in hotels Sunday night, Murray said.
Anyone impacted by the derecho and in need of a hotel room is asked to call 1-800-RED-CROSS and select option 4.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Cross staff and volunteers cannot hand out meals like they typically would do in a disaster, but emergency management offices and other community partners have been given ready-to-eat meals to distribute to areas with the greatest need.
“That started this weekend and will continue through this week,” he said.
Murray said the Red Cross also will begin distributing some basic relief items, such as tarps and cleaning supplies, this week.
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