Fire victims coping with loss

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – After waiting most of the day to get back into their apartments, some of the residents of Chesterfield Square Apartments are now being allowed back into their homes. They began arriving late this afternoon, so they may retrieve medications and belongings.

This has been a hectic and difficult day for everyone involved. Most of the residents are senior citizens with medication needs, and few have family members in the area.

After blinding orange filled the charcoal sky, firefighter and police officers gently moved everyone to safety, including Lori Mustian's 71 year old father.

"He's here. Other things can be replaced. But he can't so. At least he's here. I just hope everybody is safe and with their families," said Mustian.

Dozens of elderly and disabled residents were forced to leave behind key pieces of their lives we often take for granted.

"No jacket, no coat, no nothing, and my glasses are there. I miss all that stuff, you know," said fire victim John Stivers.

"My phone book! I can't call anyone. My medicine is the big thing. I'm a diabetic so I have some pills in my pill box," said Elaine Krauss.

They spent that long first night of worry taking shelter at Bon Air United Methodist Church.

"One night is not an easy night of sleep, for these particular individuals," said Paul Hundley, Red Cross.

Many now wondering where they go from here.

Rachel DePompa: "Where are you going to stay tonight?"
John Stivers: "I have no idea. I'm hoping to find out now."

Joe Florino: "Hoping that it didn't affect my apartment."
Rachel DePompa: "But you don't know?"
Joe Florino: "No!"

The whole situation is very reminiscent of the fire five years ago in south Richmond's Arbor Apartments. 77 were displaced. Many of them moved to the Chesterfield Square Apartments to recover.

Elaine Krauss: "I know one lady I know from arbor hills was just sobbing in her wheel chair... Just sad for her."
Rachel DePompa: "she'd already lost a lot in one fire?"
Elaine Krauss: "yes and now she has to go through it again."

The Red Cross is accepting donations. You can visit their website by clicking here.

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