Residents affected by the Oct. 3 fire that destroyed a housing unit at the Evergreen Apartments in Holts Summit continue to turn to the American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter for help.
Recovery has been challenging, but progressive, for some, while the transition to a new normal has been difficult for others.
”There are a lot of people who haven’t gotten that far,” said Phillip Iman, chapter disaster specialist.
Iman along with Kath Mayne, another chapter disaster specialist, have been working with and advising families and individuals displaced after fire gutted the 30-unit facility on a Friday afternoon.
“I had two different households that were in here this morning and they are still struggling,” Iman said Monday. “They are living on people’s couches. We’re working with them so they can meet their basic needs with food and clothing. We’re doing that through partner referrals.”
The chapter set up an incident command center at a Holts Summit Police Department facility to meet with clients in the first hours after the fire.
Chapter recovery efforts now are coordinated with the Salvation Army in Jefferson City and Columbia, SERVE in Fulton and Habitat for Humanity.
Still, with all the help available to clients, recovery has not always been easy.
“They sat here across from me and told me their stories,” Iman said of the families he met with Monday. “Their lives have been turned upside down and they don’t know what to do next. They talked about reliving the event.
“It’s not only affected them financially with their ability to carry on their life, but it’s affected them psychologically. That has a lot to do with their ability to recover.”
Iman said the chapter and coordinating agencies have put together a recovery “package” for clients.
“Between all of those agencies we’re able to help with rental assistance, household furnishings and other household items,” he noted. “Combine all of the agencies and we’re able to help people re-establish themselves with some semblance of getting back to normal.”
The apartment building had 26 of the 30 units occupied at the time of the fire. The chapter has assisted 25 families – which accounts for 39 adults and 21 children - since the incident.
“A lot of what we are doing now is working through the details with them,” Iman said. “They just need somebody to talk to who can help them work through the process of recovery. That’s what I’ve been spending my time on.”
Some clients who received initial chapter help have returned to the Red Cross seeking additional assistance.
“There has not been anybody that we haven’t been able to help,” said Iman, who wrote two referrals to the Salvation Army Monday. “There are some people that are just mad still and they don’t know what to do. I had one lady who really didn’t want to take any advice I was willing to give her.”
No matter the client’s demeanor, the Red Cross is at the ready to assist.
“As people go through this recovery process, we at the Red Cross are here to stand beside them and help them work through it,” Iman said. “We are here to help them with guidance to additional resources. We’re also offering emotional support.”