Building a stronger voice for Iowans with disabilities...
Update on Iowa Floods 8/7/2008
The recently flooded Black Hawk Center for Independent Living in Waterloo, Iowa, now has a new office. They are still working to get funding for their critical needs, i.e., computers, printers, server, phone system, and two power doors for the new office.
After much run around for over 6 weeks, FEMA has finally decided that they CAN help the Center with their losses, so they are waiting to hear from FEMA regarding what will be covered. RSA has contacted the Waterloo CIL Executive Director, but so far they are saying they have no funds to help the CIL to recover from this disaster.
The Center has received a number of donations from their new landlord, staff, board, other Iowa CILs, and other community partners, such as desks, chairs, file cabinets, kitchen supplies, reception area furniture, a computer, and brailling equipment.
I know a great many of you have e-mailed me wanting to know where to send donations, but I am asking you to please continue hold off. The Center wants to find out how much FEMA will cover before they would need to ask for the very scarce and precious dollars that all of you CILs and SILCs have offered to send.
I will keep you all posted, and thank you all so much for your words of support and encouragement! I have passed those messages on to the Center staff.
-Dawn Francis Iowa SILC Executive Director
Update on Iowa Floods 6/20/2008
The Evert Conner Center for Independent Living in Iowa City is now back in their office.They did not have any flood waters that came into their building, so they were very fortunate.
The Black Hawk Center for Independent Living in Waterloo has just signed a month to month lease on new office space.There is some office furniture already in the office that the owner of the building is going to donate to the Center.The Executive Director and Board are in the process of looking at their inventory and creating a list of what they had that was destroyed, and what they have so far to replace what was destroyed (so far only the donated office furniture in their new office, and Doug Moravek, ED of the Sioux City CIL, has offered to donate two desks, a credenza, and four office chairs that are not new but in really good condition.Doug Keast from Iowa Workforce Development is going to get a state truck and has volunteers who will drive up to Sioux City and load the furniture and deliver it to the new Waterloo CIL office).They are also identifying what they still need to replace and the cost to replace that.Once that is completed, there is a possibility that there may be some previous federal disaster funding from our friends in Wisconsin that may be able to be used to cover some or all of the cost of replacing what was lost.We are working on this and will keep people posted.
It may take up to 14 days for the Waterloo CIL to get phone service hooked up in their new office.Right now the ED is setting up a voice mailbox that was offered by ILRU.He is trying to get the phone company to route all calls to the Center number to this toll-free number at ILRU so folks can at least leave a voice mail message for Center staff, and Center staff can retrieve the voice mails at any time from any location.
As soon as I get the new address and PO Box # for the Waterloo CIL, I will send it out to all of you.
-Dawn Francis Iowa SILC Executive Director
Update on Iowa Floods 6/17/2008
As you all know, Iowa has been hit very hard with flood waters. The office of the Black Hawk Center for Independent Living, located in Waterloo, Iowa, has been totally lost to flood waters. The office is NOT located on a flood plain. The staff had pulled things out of the basement, and put computers and records up on desk tops, never imagining that water would even come near the top of the desks.
Needless to say, the water DID come in and up over the desk tops. The Executive Director was able to recover their server from the office, although it was wet and may be damaged. His computer experts have told him to let it dry out for a few days and they are hopeful they can retrieve the Centerís consumer records at that time.FEMA is not allowing staff to remove anything else from the office until their staff can get in to assess the losses.Since the Center was not located on a flood plain, they were not allowed to purchase flood insurance. Since there is no flood insurance, all of the contents lost in the office are not covered by any insurance.
In addition, the Center operates a transportation program for people with disabilities and other low income folks. They had three vans, and two were destroyed by the flood waters. The one remaining van is being used only to transport emergency dialysis patients. The other two vans that were lost should be covered by the auto insurance.The Center was able to work with the local bus company, and that local company is temporarily picking up some of the routes that the Center was providing for people with disabilities and low income folks regarding transportation for work, doctor appointments, shopping, etc. The Center will again take over these routes once they get their two vans replaced that were lost in the flooding.
The Waterloo Center believes they may have found a new location to move to, as the building they were renting in has been condemned due to the flooding.They are working with FEMA to see what help they can receive, and are assessing what their needs will be in order to get the Center back up and running.
The office of the Evert Conner CIL in Iowa City has NOT had any flood waters, but the lower level of the building that the landlord operates a business from does have water.A staff member was able to get in to the office today and stated there was no water in the CIL office.However, streets around the Center continue to be blocked off, and there is some concern about the safety of the building structure due to an unsafe retaining wall outside the building and the water in the lower level.The Iowa City ED has been trying to get in touch with the landlord and the city to see when a building inspection will be done to ensure the safety of the building before staff can return.The Center does have one phone and answering machine on so that people can call for assistance, and they can pick up the voice mails from home.Many buildings at the University of Iowa in Iowa City are surrounded by flood waters, and only essential personnel are to report to work. The University has officially closed down for at least a week.
In regard to Cedar Rapids, there has been MASSIVE flooding. Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa, second only to Des Moines. Hundreds of downtown streets are underwater, and they are estimating at least 20,000 people are homeless as a result of the flooding in Cedar Rapids. There is not a Center office in Cedar Rapids. It is a satellite of the Evert Conner CIL in Iowa City, and right now they only have one part time staff serving that community and he works out of his home. He is safe and not in any of the flooding, and was able to place 4 consumer partners who were affected by the flood waters into appropriate shelters in the area. One consumer partner had to be moved temporarily to a nursing home as his needs were too great for the shelter to handle. However, the IL staff person is working closely with this consumer partner and will make sure he is moved back into his apartment as soon as power is turned back on in his building. The building was not flooded, but power was out which is why he had to initially move to a shelter.
The Conner Center in Iowa City was in the process of searching, interviewing, and hiring additional staff when the floods hit, one of which was an additional staff person for Cedar Rapids. Right now they cannot get into their office, so it may be a while before they can resume this interviewing and hiring process.
The Iowa SILC office was NOT affected by flooding as the levees in downtown Des Moines held, so that is a blessing!
I have been in contact several times with the FEMA National Disability Coordinator, Cindy Daniels, to let her know the situation to date. She has been in contact with the FEMA folks in Waterloo to see what they can do to help the Waterloo CIL get set up in a new location to serve people.
As far as the SILC and the Centers can tell, people with disabilities are being appropriately served in shelters if they need to access a shelter. We will do our best to keep on top of this to ensure needs are being met.
Here are some links to Iowa TV and newspaper websites that have some amazing pictures of the flooding, particularly in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City:
I will keep you all posted as I get new information. Please give us some time to assess the needs here, and then we will let you all know what our needs are in the event you may be able to help.Please keep Iowa in your thoughts and prayers.