Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nothing Left to Salvage for Six Dallas Families

It was beautiful outside today--not a cloud in the bright blue
sky. But for 14 people, many of them international college students, this day turned out to be their darkest.

At around 3:00p.m., a 3-Alarm fire broke out at the Monaco Parc Apartment complex in North Dallas. Dallas Fire-Rescue called for the Red Cross shortly thereafter and the on-call disaster volunteer team raced to the scene.

The fire was fierce. A total of eight units were completely destroyed, six of which were occupied. As firefighters fought the blaze, residents stood on the curb across the street, watching in agony as everything they owned was reduced to unrecognizable rubble. The roof caved in and the walls of the building were burned completely through. Once the smoke cleared, the victims realized that they could literally see through the building. That's a sight they had never seen before.

One resident, a student from South America and attending Richland College, said she never thought something like this would happen to her. She asked the Red Cross worker what she should do next because all she had left was what she was wearing...a white top, black pants and a pair of flip-flops. That sentiment was echoed by each of the 14 people who experienced this disaster.

The Red Cross knows that people suffer when disasters happen. That's why volunteers make it their mission to show up for all families affected by disaster and answer that exact question...."What do we do next?"

Red Cross workers escorted families from the curb to a makeshift office set up at the apartment complex's Information Center. From there, the Red Cross began providing financial assistance for groceries, new clothing, shoes and bedding. Meanwhile, the Property Manager and her staff were getting new apartments at the same complex ready for the displaced so they could move immediately.

At around 8:00p.m., Red Cross workers left the scene, knowing that each person displaced had food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe place to stay. In the morning, these disaster victims will show up at the Red Cross chapter and meet with caseworkers who will support them with additional assistance and referrals to parner organizations so they can replace some of the things that burned in the fire.

No doubt, these residents will have a difficult time sleeping tonight. They won't be sleeping in their own beds or be able to set an alarm clock. They won't be able to open up the closet and pick an outfit for school or work in the morning, or even be able to make a cup of coffee. But they will survive as evidenced by their spirit of hope displayed at the scene. They truly understand how lucky they are to be alive.

When you get up in the morning, be grateful for the beautiful day because there's no doubt that it can turn dark in a matter of minutes. If it does, know that the Red Cross will be there for you too. We'll help you answer the question, "what do we do next". That's our purpose and it's our privilege.

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