Red Cross helps family after house fire
A Dewey family was enjoying a day at the zoo in Independence, Kan., when they received a phone call telling them their house was on fire. Though thankfully no one was hurt, when they rushed back, they found their home completely destroyed. The two parents and their three children were now homeless.
Luckily, a United Way partner agency had also responded to provide assistance. When the fire broke out, the fire department called the Red Cross Emergency Disaster line. Red Cross volunteers Wes Mosier and Robert Edwards dropped what they were doing and immediately deployed from Bartlesville to assist the family. Charles Lewis marshalled canteen support for the firefighters – on-site mobile distribution of water and food from the Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle.
It turns out the family had no one they could stay with, so Red Cross volunteers gave the family a Client Financial Assistance Card so they could pay for hotel rooms for several nights stay, as well as a week’s worth of food and changes of clothing for 5 people. They each received comfort kits filled with basic hygiene items, along with a recovery kit of snacks, water and a guide to next steps. Mental and physical health services were offered but declined at the time.
All of this happened within two hours of them losing their home and all of their belongings. The goal of Red Cross is immediate, short term response so that no one will be homeless, hungry, without adequate clothing or vital medication in the first 72 hours following a disaster.
Sixty-seven percent of clients the Red Cross help have no insurance, and this family was no exception. They were renting, so the home was covered by the homeowner’s policy, but their possessions were not insured. The Red Cross made sure their immediate needs were met, and also offered them help with their first month’s rent to provide them with some stability.
Their case worker followed up with the family several times to make sure they had all the help they needed.
“When we can provide families an immediate safety net of safe, stable housing and prevent them from spiraling into greater poverty or homelessness, a great social good in our community is served that extends far beyond the help and hope Red Cross gives at the time of the disaster,” Regina Moon, CEO of the Eastern Oklahoma region of the American Red Cross, said.
The Bartlesville Regional United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in our communities. By meeting families’ needs after disasters, United Way funded programs give people the assistance they need to stay safe and healthy in a time of crisis. Last year, thanks to the support of United Way donors, 138 families were helped after house fires.
“A house fire can affect anyone at any time,” Bartlesville Regional United Way Marketing Manager Abigail Singrey said. “Through our partnership with Red Cross, the United Way is committed to providing the assistance needed to make sure everyone experiencing a crisis –whether that be a house fire, storm damage or flooding – has someone right there with them to help them through it.”