How you can help the apartment fire victims

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Nearly 100 senior citizens are victims of a massive fire at the Chesterfield Square Apartment Complex from Tuesday night. As the victims find places to live temporarily, inside the American Red Cross Call Center in Richmond, things are pretty hectic.

The pictures only tell half the story.

"My nerves are still... To come here and see it's just all... You feel like you've lost your whole life," said fire victim Don Rohm.

It's those stories, the volunteers at the Richmond Red Cross are listening to. It's a huge response from Paul Hundley. He's the man behind this disaster management plan at the Red Cross.

"They're just nice people and you want to open up everything you can to help them. That's what we're trying to do, but you have to be realistic," said Paul Hundley.

That means coordinating many community and state agencies, meeting in one room, to make sure each and every victim of this fire is taken care of.

"The night of the fire, we needed to take care of the immediate medical needs that many walked out and left behind," said Paul.

Three days later, that need continues, along with everything else these victims lost in the massive blaze.

"Matching those resources up and distributing them equally is challenging in itself," added Paul.

This disaster will cost the Red Cross more than $10,000, in this first week of services alone. Keep in mind, the Red Cross is struggling like everyone else, in this tough economy.

"We spend the money whether we have it or not. Up to this event we had - thanks goodness - a slow season," stated Paul.

But now, things have changed. Money is tight and many victims are left with nothing. All this, as volunteers push forward, helping everyone the best they can. Some victims tell us they are without any clothes to put on their backs.

"The Red Cross provides financial assistance to people, so they can go out and get clothes that fit, it's a style they like," said Hundley.

It's money they need the most, along with volunteers to help coordinate this massive effort. Give the Red Cross to help them out financially.

"Anything that they want to donate clothing wise, food wise, they can contact us with that. We're going to point them to an organization that is equipped to clean, house those donations," said Paul.

Then, the Red Cross and the other agencies will distribute those donations, to every victim who needs it. It's a community effort, from the top down.

To help out the victims of this fire, or any fire for that matter, what you need to do is give the American Red Cross a call at (804) 780-2250.

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