Out with the bugs, in with the beds | Information, Sports activities, Jobs


Messenger photo by Chad Thompson
Steve Roe, executive director of Beacon of Hope Men’s Shelter, holds his dog Otis next to one of the beds at the shelter on Tuesday. The beacon was infected with a bed bug. While Roe works to get the infestation under control, he is looking for about 60 new beds for the beacon.

When one of the men at the Beacon of Hope told Steve Roe that he had been bitten by insects overnight, Roe, the manager of the men’s home, knew he had a potentially serious problem.

“It was on a Thursday when one of the guys came up to me and said he had bites.” said Roe. “He was all confused.”

Wasted no time, Roe called a pest control specialist to confirm if there were any bed bugs at the men’s home at 1021 First Ave. N.

The Beacon resident told Roe about the bites on July 8th. The specialist was there on July 9th.

Roe’s fears were confirmed when it was discovered that there was an area with bed bugs. Next, Roe called local exterminators.

“From that point on, I started calling exterminators at Fort Dodge – the ones recommended to me.” said Roe. “The problem is they were all busy and it would be a long time before they could get in here.”

So Roe had to consider other options. He recalled that the Sioux City Gospel Mission had a problem with bed bugs about a decade ago.

“They treated their bed bugs with diatomaceous earth and have not had any problems with it since.” said Roe. “This is food grade so you can eat it. However, I wouldn’t do it. But it is safe. “

Although there have been no cases suggesting bed bugs transmit disease between humans, the bugs are considered a public health pest, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Bed bugs belong to a category of blood-sucking ectoparasites that are similar to head lice. The bites can cause allergic reactions and secondary skin infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And in the case of the men’s home, the parasites can cause restlessness and fear in the residents.

“We serve the mentally ill who have nowhere to go when something like this happens” said Roe. “These guys are extremely afraid of being eaten at night. Bed bugs have an extreme emotional effect on people, especially people with anxiety disorders. “

The Beacon currently serves about 38 men. This number fluctuates depending on the time of year and a variety of other circumstances.

Fortunately, Roe believes the bed bug problem was diagnosed early.

Within a few days, Roe was able to treat the building with the diatomite.

“It literally looked like a bomb went off here.” said Roe. “There was dust everywhere. It leaves a big mess. I can understand why people don’t want to use it, but it works. That being said, we had to pull out all of the beds and put everything through a hot dryer. We packed everything up and took it to the laundromat and put it through the washer and dryer. Together with clothes. “

He also used chemicals on the baseboards and the wood around the beds. Bed bug cups were placed under the beds.

“I sprayed every single bed we had” said Roe. “They like wood and find every crevice. You can get into a crack as thin as a credit card. You have to get the chemicals into the areas where they can hide. “

The efforts seem to have worked.

Roe said no bites had been reported for a week.

“I felt so bad our boys had to go through this” said Roe. “I was afraid to take her home. It was stressful to deal with. “

The infestation caused Roe to rethink the beds currently in use at the Beacon. Many were already in bad shape.

“Our bunk beds are all made of wood”, said Roe. “We needed them and had to have them all rebuilt because they were falling apart. Then just recently a couple of guys came and secured them again so they wouldn’t fall apart if someone climbed onto the top bunk.

“Our mattresses were donated and they were old at the time. There are tears. The foam is visible through the cracks. So we have lived on as little as possible all these years and we can no longer live like this in order to move forward. “

So Roe started sourcing steel beds for the shelter. But it is an expensive undertaking. To get 60 beds with new pillows, pillowcases, sheets, and blankets, Roe estimates it’s an investment of $ 25,000 to $ 30,000.

“Most missions and camps – they all go with steel because bed bugs don’t survive on steel.” he said.

This money has to be raised through donations. 100 Plus Women Who Care are planning a donation, Roe said.

In addition, Trinity Lutheran Church in Ellsworth made an important contribution. The church raised $ 2,453 for mattresses.

“You are a very small church, but powerful in supporting missions” he said. “The support from the community and the surrounding communities has been incredible.”

Roe estimates the Beacon raised nearly $ 12,000 for the bed project.

In times of uncertainty, Roe relies on his faith. And he’s in that situation again.

“I know that through this mess, God will provide everything we need” he said.

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