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What kind of resources are available to the victims of house fires?

Si Cantwell
StarNews

Red Cross volunteers comfort a house fire victim. Photo courtesy of the American Red Cross.

 

Q. As I write this, a good friend of mine is watching the last of the flames go out in a fire that just claimed her house. Everyone got out fine, but they are left with basically nothing but they clothes they put on this morning. What kind of resources are available to help someone like this? There are many needs in the family. My friend is caring for her mother who has Alzheimer’s. Her husband has battled throat cancer twice and is now battling Parkinson’s. She is raising her grandson and also has a son living at home. I want to help, and I am trying to do some foot work so that they know what their options are. Thank you!!!

A. We asked Autum Mihm, director of communications for the  American Red Cross, Eastern N.C. Region, to provide an answer for this heart-wrenching question. Here’s her response:

The Red Cross can assist with immediate emergency disaster-caused needs including assistance with temporary lodging, food, clothing, replacement medications or eyewear, comfort kits with hygiene items, and storage containers for belongings. Red Cross mental health volunteers can support fire victims with grief and trauma counseling and referrals to local mental health care providers.

Additional assistance the Red Cross can provide is first month’s rent or security deposit and referrals to partner agencies for household goods, clothes, and other services. The affected resident(s) should call the Red Cross at 910-762-2683.

We also recommend people call 2-1-1 for a list of agencies in the area that can help with individual needs.

In 2013, the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross responded to 143 home fires and assisted 570 residents with immediate emergency needs including shelter, food, clothing, supplies, referrals, and emotional support. The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan.

The biggest disaster threat to American families isn’t floods, hurricanes or tornadoes; it’s fire. Across the country, the American Red Cross responds to a disaster every eight minutes and nearly all of these are home fires. Home fires can strike quickly and without warning, devastating lives and property. But unlike other disasters, most home fires can be prevented.

The Red Cross is committed to giving people the information they need to reduce their risk of home fires, and to helping people recover after a fire happens. At any time of day or night, trained Red Cross volunteers respond to the scene of fires and provide food, shelter, and emotional support to those affected.

Smoke alarms save lives. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a home fire in half. Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including bedrooms. Test smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year.

Fires can spread quickly and every second counts. Having a plan in place can help you escape, but less than one-fourth of Americans have actually made a plan and practiced it. Home fire plans should include at least two ways to escape from every room of your home. Select a meeting spot at a safe distance from your home where family members can meet after a fire. Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year.

Download the American Red Cross First Aid App to get access to life-saving information on what to do for common, everyday first aid emergencies including burns. The app is available in the Apple App Store and on Google Play for Android. For more information visit www.redcross.org/homefires.

While big, visible floods and hurricanes often bring millions into the Red Cross, we sometimes struggle to pay for smaller disasters like home fires. Every year, the Red Cross spends an average of $300 million preparing for and responding to nearly 70,000 disasters across the county.

You can help people affected by disasters like fires, as well as countless crises at home and around the world, by making a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters.

Visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter (Cape Fear Chapter at 1102 South 16th St., Wilmington [Map this], NC 28401) or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.

RELATED LINKS:

What are the rules for backyard campfires in New Hanover County and Wilmington?

Does the City of Wilmington Fire Dept offer free inspections of fireplaces ?

 

User-contributed question by:
Amy Westbrook

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2 Responses to “ What kind of resources are available to the victims of house fires?”

  1. On May 4, 2015 at 1:58 pm housexfirexvictims wrote:

    H HELLO,
    MY FAMILY, HAD OUR HOUSE FIRE ON MARCH 18 2014..WE LOST EVERYTHING TO AN UNDETIRMINED HOUSE FIRE.. I DO THANK THE REDCROSS FOR THERE FIRST RESPONSE HELP TO OUR EMERGENCY…THEY GAVE US CLOTHING MONEY, ON A CARD..THEY ALSO GAVE US THREE DAYS AT EXTENDED STAY..THEN THEY GAVE US A REFERAL TO ALL LOCAL AGENCYS FOR ALL THINGS NEEDED.I MUST NOT FORGET TO THANK MY LOCAL ELVERTA, CA FIRE FIGHTERS, NOT ONLY DID THEY PUT THE FIRE OUT, THEY GAVE US AN ENERGENCY FUND ON A CARD FOR A 100.00.
    THANKYOU…SO MUCH..
    ASIDE FROM THIS…MY CONCERN IS THAT ,
    THAT REFERAL THE RED CROSS GAVE US DIDNT GET ME , NOT EVEN ONE RESOURCE…THE NON PROFITS IN SACRAMENTO ARE CONFUSING US WITHHOMELESS…PLEASE KNOW THERE IS A DIFFERENCE…DISPLACEMENT YES IS A FORM OF HOMELESSNESS…Although TWO DIFFERENT ENTITIES..IN SACRAMENTO ALL RESOURCES FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES ARE LITERALLY SUCKED DRY..THEY ARE ON OVERLOAD..ALONG WITH THOSE PROGRAMS, IS MANDITORY FAMILY REHABILITATION, AND IN SOME INSTANCES, FAMILY REUNIFICATION…DUE TO DRUG USE…IN OTHER WORDS…THEY LABEL THERE HELP FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES..IS REALLY A FAMILY DRUG REHAB…PLEASE NO OFFENCE, AND A COMMUNITY DEFFINATELY NEEDED. IM TRYING TO SAY THAT FAMILIES THAT ARE DISPLACED DUE TO A DISASTER. TTHE TWO CATAGORIES SHOULD BE SPLIT UP INTO O TWO DIFFENT AREAS OF MUCH NEEDED HELP..
    THIS HAS LEFT MY FAMILY IN A HORRIBLE DOMINO AFFECT , iLEAVING MY FAMILY WITHOUT ANY RESOURSCES, OR COMMUNITY CONCERN…
    WE OWNED OUR HONE 28 YEARS..WE LOST IT TO AN ILLEAGAL FORCLOSUE, FOLLOWED BY , A BAD FAITH CLAIM. OUR LOSS IS A CATASTROPHIC,
    310.00 to nothing….AND NOT ONE RESOURCE…NO ONE EVEN CARED TO HELP. THIS REFERAL I HAVE DOESNT MEAN A THING…I AM IN A GARAGE NOW…MY KIDS STAY IN THE HOUSE IN THE LIVINGROOM…IVE HAD TO SPLIT UP MY FAMILY , BUSING, WAS WRONGFULLY DENIED, SO WE HAD TO SPLIT UP, FOR SCHOOL REASONS…I HAVE THREE SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN, IN SPECIAL EDUCATION..THEY DENIED THE BUSING…SO I HAD TO SPLIT US UP, SO OUR OLDEST BOY COULD GET TO SCHOOL ON TIME. WE DIDNT EVEN IMMAGINE IT WOULD TAKE THIS LONG FOR US TO FIND A HOME. SINCE WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO FIND NOT ONE ORGANIZATION TO HELP, WITH THE ILLEAGAL, FORCLOSURE, BAD FAITH INSURANCE, CLAIM…28 YEARS, SAME INSURANCE, NO MISSED PAYMENT…BILL PAY, UP TO DATE, UNTIL THE FIRE..
    OUR RIGHTS HAVE BEEN TAKEN …WE CAN EVEN RIGHTFULLY RECOVER NOR PROTECT OUR HOME OR BELONGINGS???? THEN A REFURRAL CANT HELP, RESOURCES ARE USED UP BY HOMELESS FAMILIES….SALVATION ARMY, WANTED ID AND VERIFICATION THAT WAS BURNED UP IN THE FIRE, OR WE COULDNT GET HELP..LATER AFTER WE GOT A FIRE REPORT THEY GAVE A FAMILY OF 6 TWO 100.00 GIFT CARD. AND THATS THE THE END OF THAT RESOURCE.. WE HAVE BEEN REVICTIMIZED BY OUR FRIENDS, FAMILY , SCHOOL, ETC.
    THEY THINK WE HAVE NOT YET RECOVERD, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING WRONG WITH US..EXACT WORDS FROM SALVATION ARMY..”YOUR STILL PLAYING ON THAT FIRE …
    SCHOOL HAS SINCE TAKEN MY RIGHTS AS A PARENT…AND SOMEHOW SOME WAY TOOK MY PARENTAL RIGHTS, TO MY OLDEST BOY, THE ONE THAT, I had stay with my daughter temperary.
    THE SCHOOL HAS LET MY DAUGHTER REPLACE EMERGENCY CARD..REPLACE ME IN TESTING FOR IEP.FUNDRAISING, SIGHN FOR 5 DAY TRIPS, EXCUSE COUNTLESS ABSENSES EXCUSED. NEVER CALLING ME OR TELLING ME NOTHING…I COMPLAINED, I NEVER GAVE MY RIGHTS AWAY, NOR EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS…..MY TWINS ATTEND THE SAME SCHOOL..THE LETTER I GOT FROM THERE TEACHER, IS A PERFECT PARENT LETTER…WHILE THEY CO-CONSPIRACY WITH MY DAUGHTER…THEY LABELED HER LEGAL GARDIAN ON PAPERWORK THAT IS TO BE CONFIDENTAL…SINCE SHE GOT A TEMPERARY CUSTODY ORDER…THE SCHOOL MADE IT SEEM LIKE I WAS NOT EVEN INVOLVED, IN MY SINS LIFE…ALL OF A SUDDEN..MY SON RUNS FROM US WHEN hE SEES US..NO PHONE CALLS …I DONT EVEN KNOW WHERE HE LIVES..SO MY KID WAS KIDNAPPED BY MY DAUGHTER WITH THE SCHOOLS HELP…AND I CANT FIND HELP FOR THIS…..THE PLACES PEOPLE TELL ME TO GO FOR HELP…MY STORY IS WAY OVER THERE HEAD…WHAT ELSE DO I HAVE TO WATCH MYSELF LOSE? WHY HAS MY COMMUNITY LET THIS GOOD FAMILY JUST BURN. AND BURN…
    THANKYOU,
    TRACY TOEWS…….tracytracy4112@gmail. Com

  2. On August 5, 2016 at 12:59 pm Gina wrote:

    Our rental home burn down May 26th 2016 (little over 2 months ago). My family of 4 was rendered homeless with no possessions and we even lost several of our little dogs whom were like my children… I loved them dearly & miss them so much! AT any rate RED CROSS was there for immediate assistance and follow up assistance for the first few weeks, and don’t get me wrong, WE ARE INDEED VERY GRATEFUL…. but here we are a little over 2 months later and the events of that tragic night have created an ongoing domino affect that has destroyed our lives. We are still homeless and have been separated from each other. My husband is disabled & so we were already living on a very limited income but I was supplementing that income by renting a small retail unit where i was operating a thrift store. I was also selling on Ebay. When the fire happened a couple of us had stayed in the back room of my thrift store for a few nights just until we could find another place to go. My landlord there evicted me because of that. That caused me to lost that income. And there were Ebay items that I had sold that COULD NOT be shipped because the items were destroyed in the fire so my Ebay account was suspended eliminating income from that source. My grown daughter and her 14 year old son was also living with us at the time of the fire. My daughter is on disibilty and my grandson has ADD in a BAD way & is prescribed medication. Everyone of us lost all of our possessions, all of our medications…EVERYTHING… it has been a nightmare & continues to get worse!! and no matter whee I go for help I am told there is no help… I am at the end of my rope and questioning my reason for existence…. i hear all about the help available out there but from what I am observing being a white native wilmingtonian female with 2 disabled family members and a teenage grandson with medical issue who should be out shopping for school clothes but is instead crying his eyes out saying he wishes he had never been born… I am driving a truck with no air and a huge hole in the exhaust system SO I CANNOT GET INSPECTED DUE TO NUMEROUS ISSUE THAT I CANNOT AFFORD TO FIX…AND I’M SUFFERING DEHYDRATION FROM RIDING AROUND TRYING TO GET HELP WHILE BREATHING EXHAUST FUMES WHICH ARE CAUSING ME TO BE PHYSICALLY SICK AND HAVE MASSIVE MIGRAINES EVERY DAY. The Red Cross had said when we found a place to rent they would help with first month rent and security deposit but when i called them about getting that help I was told that our case was closed….. I called every single community resource on the list they provided and the only help I got from the list was a few food banks where I recieived molded bread and fruits and vegetables that were rotting and covered with fruit flies. My husband cannot walk without falling as he has Post Polio Syndrome and he lost his electric wheel chair in the fire. He is so depressed over all this thta he sleeps all the time, and we have not spent one night under the same roof since the fire. i have searched all day every day for a place to rent but it’s hopeless as without assistance there is no way I can come up with the money needed to cover non-refundable application fees, first months rent and security deposit, and other deposits for electric etc… So where are all these RESOURCES that are supposed to be out there for homeless families that were made homeless by no fault of their own??? I am the point of giving up completely! I am having daily panic attacks and acute anxiety. I have NO FAITH in ANYTHING OR ANYONE ANY MORE & THAT’S SAD BECAUSE i HAVE NEVER FELT THAT WAY BEFORE THIS TRAGEDY REVEALED THE HIDDEN TRUTH ABOUT ASSISTANCE THAT OBVIOUSLY DOES NOT EXIST.



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