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A week after the storm, people living in tents outside homes in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -- While the storm is long over, the struggles are not. Dozens of people in Cedar Rapids are spending their days and nights outside in tents.

Dozens of families at the Cedar Terrace Apartments have been living in tents for six days, waiting for help, they worry, may never come.

"I need somebody, I need help," said Dieurads Damis, a resident of Cedar Terrace.

When the storm hit last Monday, it took the roof of three three of the buildings, leaving dozens of families homeless.

"Nobody has a place to go," Damis said. "We're all living paycheck to paycheck."

And even though there are shelters set up in the city, for some of these families, that's not an option if they want to stay together.

Claudia Phillips also lives in the Cedar Terrace apartments. She tells News 7 KWWL that she and her husband have six kids, her brother has four kids and her sister three kids.

She says they have not gone to a shelter because they are unable to all go together. Others we spoke with say they are concerned about going to the shelters because of their concern about the coronavirus.

So for days, young children, their parents and grandparents have camped out all night and all day.

"It's really hot," said a young boy living in the tents outside his family's apartment. "That's why we're in the shade right now."

Many residents say Cedar Rapids city leaders are nowhere to be found.

"I didn't see any elected official come here to see if we live [in tents]," Damis said.

But that doesn't mean they haven't had help. In fact, everything they have now, from food, to water, to shelter, is thanks to their neighbors.

"These people have kids. We need to get them tents," said Becca Johnson, a volunteer who lives near the apartment complex.

Johnson is one of many people from all over Iowa stepping into help.

"I drove out from Anamosa here to Cedar Rapids," said Matthew Ashcraft. "I have not seen this sort of thing other than in a combat zone."

"It's disappointing and it's angry for a person to have to come from Des Moines. We even have someone who came from Wisconsin to help people." said Robert Nishimwe, who was on site as a volunteer. "It shouldn't have to normal average people to come help. The government should have done that from the jump."

"This is our city, this should be dealt with right away," said Johnson. "And now we're at a week and they're still living outside."

We spoke with the city about the conditions at Cedar Terrace. The public safety communication coordinator said there is plenty of room at the veterans building for people who are displaced.

In a statement, it said: "The Red Cross is also available to shuttle people to the facility. They are continuing to assess needs and seeking more long-term solutions."

News 7 KWWL was told late Sunday night that several residents were transported to the veterans building for the night.

We will continue to follow this story Monday and provide more details as they come available.

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