Eight times a day the American Red Cross responds to help families displaced by a home fire. This month, the American Red Cross North Jersey Region has responded to more than 30 home fires across the northern half of the state to provide comfort and emergency assistance to families when they need it most.
Red Cross volunteers are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week ready to respond to home fires and other disasters throughout the region to help their neighbors in need. Following a home fire, Red Cross disaster responders meet with the affected families to determine their immediate needs and provide emergency assistance.
Disaster responders provided emergency assistance for temporary lodging, food, clothing and infant supplies as needed to more than 355 people in 103 families in August.
“I’m proud of the compassionate care our volunteers provide to families who have experienced devastating home fires,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “When they meet with families and complete their casework, they are not only providing them with financial assistance, but are also helping to guide them in their next steps toward recovery.”
While for most families it is their first experience with a home fire, Red Cross disaster responders regularly respond to home fires and have the expertise to help families through the next steps towards recovery, including guidance and referrals to other organizations or agencies that may be able to provide additional assistance.
“As a caseworker, it’s extremely gratifying to be able to take a couple of things off of a client’s very full plate of concerns through Red Cross emergency assistance,” said David Huang, disaster responder with the American Red Cross. “This allows us to start to work with families on developing a recovery plan as well, putting order to a task that might otherwise completely overwhelm them.”
DISASTER RESPONDERS IN ACTION When a fire broke out on Wednesday, August 19 at a Godwin Avenue home in Paterson and quickly spread to four neighboring homes, three members of the Disaster Action Team responded to help nine families displaced by the fire.
Disaster responders met one-on-one with the affected families to provide support guidance and emergency assistance to help meet their immediate needs. Disaster responders provided direct assistance for temporary lodging, food and clothing to 32 people.
In the event of large-scale fires, disaster responders support shelter operations in addition to providing client assistance.
On Saturday, August 15 a fire tore through an apartment building on Main Street in East Orange leaving 14 families displaced. The Red Cross responded and opened a shelter at the Mildred Barry Garvin Elementary School located at 1 Grove Place in East Orange to provide a safe and comfortable place to stay for families displaced by the blaze.
Red Cross caseworkers began meeting with the affected families on Sunday to provide emergency assistance and help guide families through the next steps towards recovery. Caseworkers provided emergency assistance to 46 people for food, clothing and infant supplies as needed. Families also received comfort kits containing personal care items.
During the six-day shelter operation there were 99 overnight stays and approximately 1,100 meals and snacks served.
Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fire to provide assistance to 1,130 displaced families.
JOIN THE RED CROSS DISASTER ACTION TEAM! It is through the time and care of ordinary people that extraordinary things can be accomplished. The Red Cross is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels and is inviting members of the community to become volunteers.
“As a member of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, you’ll be trained to provide care and assistance to families affected by home fires and other disasters and help your neighbors in need,” said Michelle Esposito, chief volunteer services officer, American Red Cross.
To learn more about Red Cross volunteer opportunities in New Jersey or to register as a volunteer, visit redcross.org.