Out with the bugs, in with the beds | News, Sports, Jobs – Fort Dodge Messenger

-Messenger photo by Chad ThompsonSteve Roe, executive director of the Beacon of Hope Men's shelter, holds his dog, Otis, next to one of the beds at the shelter on Tuesday. The Beacon has been impacted by a bed bug infestation. While Roe works to get the infestation under control, he is seeking about 60 new beds for the Beacon.

When one of the men at the Beacon of Hope told Steve Roe he had been bitten by bugs overnight, Roe, the executive director of the mens shelter, knew he had a potentially serious problem.

It was on a Thursday that one of the guys came to me and said he had what appeared to be bites, Roe said. He was all welted up.

Roe wasted no time in calling a pest control specialist to confirm whether or not bed bugs were present at the mens shelter, 1021 First Ave. N.

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

Roes fears were confirmed when it was determined there was an area with bed bugs. Next, Roe called local exterminators.

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

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

They treated their bed bugs with diatomaceous earth and havent had a problem with them since, Roe said. This is food grade, so you can eat it. I wouldnt, though. But it is safe.

While there have been no cases that indicate bed bugs transmit diseases between humans, the bugs are considered a public health pest, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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

And in the case of the mens shelter, the parasites can cause restlessness and anxiety among the residents.

We are serving the mentally ill that have nowhere to go when this stuff happens, Roe said. These guys have extreme anxiety about being ate up at night. Bed bugs have an extreme emotional effect on people, especially people with anxiety disorders.

The Beacon serves about 38 men currently. That number fluctuates depending on the time of the 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 diatomaceous earth.

It literally looked like a bomb went off in here, Roe said. There was dust everywhere. It leaves a big mess. I can see why people wouldnt want to use it, but it does work. With that being said, we had to strip all the beds and run everything through a hot dryer.We bagged up everything and took it to the laundromat and put it through the washer and the dryer. Along with clothes.

He also used chemicals on the base boards and wood around the beds. Bed bug cups have been placed under the beds.

I sprayed every single bed we had, Roe said. They like wood and will find any crevice. They can get into a crack as thin as a credit card. You have to get the chemicals into those areas that they can hide out in.

The efforts seem to have worked.

Roe said no bites have been reported in a week.

I felt so bad our guys have had to go through this, Roe said. Ive had anxiety about taking them home with me. Its been stressful to deal with this.

The infestation caused Roe to reconsider the beds currently used at the Beacon. Many were already in poor shape.

Our bunk beds are all wood, Roe said. We got them used and had to have them all rebuilt because they were falling apart. Then we had some guys come in just recently and resecure them so they wouldnt fall apart when someone climbed on the top bunk.

Our mattresses were donated and they were old then. Theres tears. The foam is showing through the cracks. So with that being said, weve been living on as little as possible all these years and to move forward we cant live like this anymore.

So Roe has begun the process of acquiring steel beds for the shelter. But its an expensive venture. To get 60 beds with new pillows, pillow cases, sheets and blankets, Roe estimates its about a $25,000 to $30,000 investment.

Most missions and camps they are all going with steel because bed bugs dont survive on steel, he said.

That money will have to be raised through donations. 100 Plus Women Who Care plan to make a donation, Roe said.

Additionally, Trinity Lutheran Church in Ellsworth made a significant contribution. The church raised $2,453 to go toward mattresses.

They are a very small church but mighty in supporting missions, he said. The outpouring of support from the community and surrounding communities has been incredible.

Roe estimates the Beacon has raised close to $12,000 toward the bed project.

In times of uncertainty, Roe relies on his faith. And he is again in this situation.

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

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Out with the bugs, in with the beds | News, Sports, Jobs - Fort Dodge Messenger

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