The American Red Cross North Jersey Region Disaster Action Team was active in May responding to 50 home fires across the northern half of the state to offer comfort and support to 145 displaced families.
“From household items to cherished family photos to a family’s sense of security – homes fires can take so much,” said Steven Sarinelli, regional disaster officer, American Red Cross North Jersey Region. “Red Cross disaster responders help give back some of what fire takes and are there to support families in need.”
During the month, the Red Cross assisted more than 459 people displaced by home fires including those in Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Union City, Paterson, Plainfield, East Windsor, Palisades Park and West New York.
“In a time of confusion and very personal loss, we listen, act, and give families hope that ‘normal’ will return,” said disaster responder Bob Hasmiller, who was among the 15 members of the Red Cross Disaster Action Team who responded to the May 8 fire in West New York.
The night of the blaze, the Red Cross opened a reception center nearby as a temporary meeting place for families from the 25-unit Hudson Avenue apartment building, along with those evacuated from neighboring buildings, to receive assistance for temporary lodging provided by the Red Cross and the Town of West New York.
Help continued the following day as disaster responders met with families at the West New York Middle School to provide additional assistance including financial assistance for food, clothing and infant supplies as needed to 121 people in 38 families. Red Cross health services were also available to the families to provide emotional support and assistance with replacing medications lost during the fire. Comfort kits containing personal care items were also provided.
A few days later, Hasmiller was called to respond to a fire at the Windsor Castle Apartments on Devonshire Drive in East Windsor. Disaster responders met with the families and provided comfort and emergency assistance for temporary lodging, food and clothing as needed to 28 people displaced by the May 11 fire.
“It is through the compassion and dedication of Bob and his fellow Red Cross volunteers and the generosity of the American public that Red Cross disaster relief is possible,” said Sarinelli. “We are grateful for their support and service, which has helped so many families when they needed it most.”
Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers are on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week to respond to home fires and other disasters throughout the region to help their neighbors in need. Following home fires, Red Cross volunteers meet with the families to determine their immediate needs and provide emergency assistance in the form of temporary lodging, food and clothing as needed.
While for most families it is their first experience with a home fire, Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers respond to home fires often 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.
Last year, the Red Cross North Jersey Region responded to 494 local home fires to provide assistance to 1,130 displaced families.
HELP SUPPORT FAMILIES IN NEED The American Red Cross is launching Giving Day on April 21st, asking everyone in to make a donation to the Red Cross to ensure that help is available wherever and whenever people need it.
Red Cross Giving Day is a 24-hour national fundraising campaign supporting the work of the Red Cross in communities across the country each and every day. The theme on April 21st is #Help1Family because the Red Cross is all in every day, helping people to get back on their feet, one family at a time.
To take part in Giving Day and support the work of the American Red Cross, please visit redcross.org/givingday. All in one day, working together, we can bring help and hope to people when they need it most.