Fire victims have a long road ahead

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Wichita, Kansas — For residents at Ashley Lane who lost everything, the next step is a big one.

“Everything is just gone,” says Corrine. “Mostly the photos. That’s what I want most.”

As Corrine smiles and hugs another resident, she offers words of encouragement and tells everyone to stay strong. She also mentions finding a place to live. She has family.

“She is going to stay with me. I’m family,” says Pam Riggins.” That’s what we do. If you don’t have no place to go you call family. You call the next place that is going to take you in. I mean, there’s a lot of people who have to go to a shelter but how long is that going to last? Those churches can’t afford to keep all these people and sustain.”

But the churches are there, trying to help.

“Our first priority right now has been on clothing and hygeine items, recognizing that until they have a new home,” says Terry Beasley with Sharon Baptist Church. “They really don’t need a bed, they don’t need a dresser. They need a fresh pair of clothes for their back.”

And the church is doing just that.

Other residents are looking for an address. Literally.

“Well, I likely will just have everything forwarded to my small wood shop. My business,” says displaced resident Richard Gore. “And I’m going to find another place to live.  I will stay in this area.”

Gore says he got his security deposit back from the apartment complex owners on Wednesday.

“It’s only fair,” explains Gore. “You put a deposit down and you should get it back if you haven’t damaged the place. I didn’t damage the place.”

The apartment owner says he is working with other apartment complexes in town to find residents a place to live. He also says he will continue to collect mail for the residents, so they can have an address while they apply for assistance.

Mary McAdams is helping friends apply for assistance.

“Call me MC,” says McAdams. “That’s what everyone calls me.”

Some are just calling “MC” a friend.

“Ray is good people,” says MC.

Ray lost everything. So MC is on the phone. A lot.

“I called DCF about the Vision card and the med card,” says MC. “I got the phone number for Sunflower which is the KanCare plan. I am going to go see a person at DCF and change his address and then we have to call the Vision card to get the vision card sent out. I called Grace Med about teeth.”

Yes, Ray even lost his false teeth in the fire.

So much. That’s why MC is helping, even though the Red Cross remains hard at work.

“We provide emergency care, that is our main thing,” says Marena Assarsson, regional communications officer for the American Red Cross. “But we also work with the client from start to finish. Our case workers are constantly following up to make sure that people are receiving the long-term care that they need.  Losing everything… some people, all they have is the shirt on their back. So losing pictures or memories, that sort of thing is the toughest.”

The Red Cross shelter continues at Allen Elementary. Red Cross case workers will continue to help residents take the next step, getting housing and an address for their postal mail while they try to replace things like medical cards and assistance cards.




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