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Disaster Divide Part IV: "Unwanted, uncared-for, and forgotten"

Seniors and those with disabilities at two HUD apartment complexes in eastern Iowa were left in the dark for days.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — At Cedar Village Senior Living in Cedar Rapids there’s one woman who could steal your heart, with a pie.

"She’s known as the lady that bakes everything. She loves to bake," Cindy O’Leary said. 

But 12 days after the derecho, Cindy’s favorite 99-year-old neighbor Jane Severide won’t be knocking on her door.

"She’s a wonderful wonderful woman. She still gets out and movies around," Cindy said. 

Two weeks after the storm, Jane remained hospitalized after falling down the apartment stairwell which was pitch black for days after the storm.

"Power and everything went out with the storm. Management was on site but they took off. Didn’t come back into the building to check and see if everyone was alright," Cindy said. 

Seniors and those with disabilities were left in the dark.

Residents told Local 5 half a week went by without a word from management. 

Residence at the HUD apartment complex for seniors and those with disabilities in Cedar Rapids, as well as their sister complex Oak Village in Marion, struggled to find help. 

The hallways had no emergency lighting or functioning elevator for those with walkers and wheelchairs to get out. 

They couldn't buy groceries to replace their spoiled food. 

The groceries are hard enough for them to afford in the first place.

"Most of us are on a very fixed income," Cindy said. 

Cindy said it made them feel neglected.

"Unwanted, un-cared for, and forgotten. I’ve felt a lot of anger and a lot of frustration," Cindy said. 

A recipe for loneliness that breaks the spirit of a brilliant baker.  

"You’re treated like you’re just the dog next door. You’re not a human being. No compassion," Jane Severide said. 

When Jane finally got home from her 15-day hospital stay. 

She is now under the care of her daughter Wendy. 

Jane said she fractured her pelvis in two areas and had a brain bleed. 

Jane never heard from management about why the stairwell she fell in had no emergency light.

Local 5 reached out for comment, as well as our sister station KCRG in Cedar Rapids, but did not hear back after numerous calls and emails.

"I guess I figured she’d check to see if I was alive or dead," Jane said. 

Jane’s fall cost her more than just two weeks away from her friend Cindy.

It also stole her fight to do what she loves most.

"I loved to bake pies," Jane said. 

But she won’t be able to bake them anymore

"Oh I won’t be able to get up and down. Get the pie tins out," Jane said. 

Volunteers ended up stopping by the Cedar Rapids complex with supplies like flashlights and other items. 

Cindy said she’s thankful that community members cared enough to help out.

"It’s neat to see how the community comes together," Cindy said. 

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