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Local non-profit helping derecho victims with replacing furniture

By Becky Phelps

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:37 PM CDT

HIAWATHA, Iowa (KCRG) -More than two months after the derecho, many families with damaged homes are still finding new places to live.

One local non-profit is working to help those families by taking one worry away – replacing furniture.

Savanah Prine and her mother have been sleeping in chairs after they lost their apartment and most of their furniture in the derecho. “We were really scared because I was about 9 months pregnant…and all of a sudden, we heard a train sound coming through. Next thing we know we have rain just pouring into our apartment,” says Prine. After two months, Prine’s family, with her newborn baby, was finally able to find another apartment-but she still didn’t have anything to put in it. “It would be super hard, because we’re on a fixed income so it would be impossible to find beds, couches, to fill up a place to live,” says Prine.

Then, they reached out to Central Furniture Rescue, a Hiawatha non-profit, for help. Less than a week after Prine and her family had moved into their new apartment, C.F.R. delivered them a new place to sleep, and much more.

President and Executive Director of the Central Furniture Rescue Susan Johnston says the demand for furniture has jumped by 25% since August, and she doesn’t expect things to slow down. She says the community was already seeing a shortage of housing, and the derecho is backing things up even more. “The derecho happened in August. Well, it’s the end of October, and we’re still getting referrals. And we will keep getting referrals. There are people who will not be placed into a new place until spring,” says Johnston.

Johnston says in the days after the storm her team immediately knew there would be a serious need for furniture, and they started looking for donations. But, they didn’t have to look far.

Lutheran Church of Hope in Des Moines sent them four semis with more than 900 pieces of furniture, enough to help 85-100 families.

“And we now have all of this furniture, and we’re ready. We’re ready whenever the people need it,” says Johnston.

C.F.R. has given furniture to more than 300 families this year, and they have more deliveries scheduled every week. Johnston says their team will be ready to help people get back on their feet for as long as it takes. “And we want to give them one less thing to worry about. You focus on getting yourself housed. We’ll make sure we get you some furniture,” says Johnston.

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