Repairs to some flood damaged homes in Cedar Rapids are being delayed because organizers of a program failed to check for a potential health hazard. Clint Twedt-Ball is program administrator for Cedar Rapids’ Block by Block organization.
“We had not been doing asbestos inspections. We didn’t realize this was an issue,” Twedt-Ball said. The order from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources may jeopardize the Block by Block organization’s goal of revamping 12 blocks of homes this year.
But Joe Sanfilippo, a D.N.R. environmental program supervisor, says the group should have known about rules to check for asbestos – a known carcinogen. “I was a little surprised when I first heard that they had not been dealing with it and hadn’t addressed the issue,” Sanfilippo said. “It’s a health problem and we have to deal with it.”
About 2,500 volunteers have worked on about 100 homes in Cedar Rapids since July. Sanfilippo says Block by Block officials will likely be required to inspect every property on which they worked, even though it could stall the recovery process. “We want to see Cedar Rapids get over this issue with the flood, but we don’t want to see repercussions down the road or health problems for people who are doing the work,” Sanfilippo said.
Twedt-Ball says Block by Block will cooperate and provide any information the D.N.R. requests. “We’ll keep moving through this and keep being a hope-filled, solution-centered program. We’re not going to give up or quit,” Twedt-Ball said. All major work on homes is being delayed as the D.N.R. investigates.
Block by Block has ordered asbestos inspections on 18 properties where work is under way. Those inspections started today.
By Mark Geary, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids