By Ashley Henyan
Approximately 100 people attended an information meeting hosted by the Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region on March 6, 2022 - to learn more about available resources and the recovery process following a horrific building explosion in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Attendees had opportunities to ask questions of Red Cross team members, Montgomery County Emergency Management officials and representatives from the property management company where the horrific incident occurred. The importance of mental health was discussed, including ways to obtain counseling for children; and attendees left with warm meals for every member of their household, hygiene kits with shampoo, lotion, toothpaste and other toiletry items and large plastic totes – for easily retrieving personal items from damaged apartment units.
The explosion occurred on March 3rd, forcing dozens from their homes. Since then, and with the unwavering support of government, community and faith-based partners, Red Cross disaster workers have staffed and supported the Montgomery County White Oak Recreation Center shelter, served over 700 meals, provided close to 600 snacks, and distributed 22 cases of water. Additionally, dozens of households have received immediate financial assistance.
Josephine Gyasi Baaye’s Story
Thursday March 3rd started off like a regular weekday for Josephine Gyasi Baaye. She woke up and helped her three oldest children get ready and out the door to attend another day at school. Then, she proceeded to feed and care for her 7-month-old son. All was quiet, until around 10:30 a.m., when the building adjacent to her home suddenly exploded and then burst into flames. Three days later, with her four children Aziel, Kelly, Anne and Hally; and her sister Linda – in from out of town to offer support – Josephine turned to the Red Cross of Montgomery, Howard and Frederick Counties for help.
“Being home when that building exploded, that was traumatic. It’s difficult for me to sleep now,” Josephine said, after attending a community meeting hosted by the American Red Cross. “This help is great though and I have hope. I know in time we will all be okay.”
Next Steps for Impacted Residents
Alongside partners, trained Red Cross workers will provide additional recovery resources as well as emotional support with the opening of a Disaster Assistance Center on Tuesday March 8th from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.; and Wednesday March 9th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The location on both days will be the Gwendolyn Coffield Community Center, 2450 Lyttonsville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
How to Help
At this time, thanks to those who have previously supported our mission with generous donations, our Red Cross team has what it needs to assist people impacted and we are not accepting financial donations specifically for this tragedy. We are asking the community to refrain from donating items like stuffed animals, blankets, clothing and household goods — as it takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute these items, which diverts limited resources away from helping those impacted with essential services. Those wanting to help can visit this page, set-up by Montgomery County. Those wanting to support general Red Cross disaster relief, to ensure volunteers are ready to respond to the next emergency, may donate at RedCross.org/donate.