The American Red Cross and Hopkins County Salvation Army Monday were at the temporary shelter at the Church of the Nazarene assisting the Helm Lane residents whose apartments burned or were smoke and water damaged Sunday afternoon.
The shelter was opened Sunday evening to give the residents of the 13 destroyed apartments and 15 displaced, either due to smoke or water damage as a result of the fire, as a place to stay.
“They came in until midnight. Thirteen people lost everything and 15 had water or smoke damage. They won’t know until later today if they will be able to go back in or what can be saved,” said HCSA Chairman Jo Marie Neal Monday morning.
According to Dawn Morgan, who heads up the Hopkins County branch of the American Red Cross, the agency helps open shelters and works with people impacted by disasters such as apartments fires, hurricanes and tornadoes.
The Red Cross assists people by providing a place for them to stay for up to three days. They meet with each person affected individually to assess each person’s needs, and generally give each a debit-type card so they can purchase basic needs such as personal hygiene items, underwear, socks and food.
They also assess long term needs and try to put the people in contact with agencies or people who can help provide the assistance they require.
Hopkins County Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are working together at the shelter to assess needs and get them the help needed.
According to Morgan, the 13 families occupying the 16-apartment unit destroyed will need everything as all of their belongings, save what they had on, were destroyed.
Management at the apartment complex indicated to Morgan that as new openings become available, the displaced residents will have the option of moving into them. They are working to restore those apartments that can be repaired, and have already been in contact with one church group that’s pledged to help speed the process by doing paint work that needs done. Morgan said any other group or people who want to help with repairs can contact the apartment management to volunteer.
Sulphur Springs Independent School District Superintendent Michael Lamb was in contact with Red Cross workers Sunday and Monday, pledging to make sure the school children affected by the fire get new backpacks and other schools supplies they may need.
Monetary donations to help the families affected can be mailed to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 595, Greenville, TX 75403 with “Sulphur Springs apartment fire” denoted on the check to ensure the funds are utilized locally; or Hopkins County Salvation Army, 1702 South Broadway Street, Sulphur Springs, TX 75482.
The apartment complex is opening their community room to accept donations of items such as clothing, toys, furniture, jackets, blankets and other bedding, according to Morgan.
“The management is going to open up the community center and allow donations. With permission of families — they’re asking them and with agreement — will allow adoption of a family. If a church or someone wants to adopt a family, this will allow them to,” Morgan said Monday morning, noting that people should contact the complex management at 903-885-4231 to make arrangements for those types of donations or to volunteer.
Or, people can contact the Salvation Army by calling Joe Marie Neal at 903-335-1032 or the Red Cross by contacting Dawn Morgan at 903-335-2187.
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