Red Cross closing shelter more than week after families displaced in Charlotte apartment fire

Red Cross closing shelter more than week after families displaced in Charlotte apartment fire
(Ben Williamson | WBTV)
(Ben Williamson | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An American Red Cross shelter is closing more than a week after a fire displaced 39 people from their homes at Woodbridge Apartments in east Charlotte,

The shelter that many of the families stayed at is closing at noon Saturday.

Red Cross said that there were 200 overnight shelter stays with a peak of 28 shelter residents most nights.

According to the Red Cross, at the shelter, more than 675 meals were served, more than 565 snack were provided and 55 comfort kits were distributed.

A total of 44 volunteers were involved in the process.

Firefighters say an improperly discarded cigarette ignited the fire at the Woodbridge Apartments on the 6000 block of Yateswood Drive.

Many of those families have had to stay in the shelter set up by the American Red Cross at Albemarle Road Middle School. As of Friday, 28 people were staying at the shelter, nine of them were children.

"Community response has been overwhelming," said Kris Rahe, The Disaster Program Manager for American Red Cross Charlotte-Metro Chapter.

Rahe says donations poured in immediately and the families have been able to sift through those this week.

"They have come throughout the week. They would put things in a basket and put it aside until they can find a permanent solution," said Rahe.

The shelter is set up a few hundred yards from where the fire occurred.

"People come and go to their jobs. The kids, we do our best to keep them entertained," said Rahe.

The American Red Cross has been collaborating with Crisis Assistance Ministry to evaluate each family's unique needs and work with them to identify long-term housing and obtain the resources they need.

According to the Red Cross, several families have already secured housing and will be moving in over the next several days.

Previous: Red Cross stepping up to help those displaced by east Charlotte fire

WBTV spoke to several people that are staying at the shelter who say the uncertainty has been difficult.

"Well, it has been difficult because I do not have a place to live. I don't have a quiet place. I have never seen anything like it. It was something out of a movie," said one victim.

Rahe says there have been several organizations and resources this week to help the victims.

"We have had a lot of resources come in to help with counseling and talking and just trying to keep everyone upbeat, healthy, and happy," said Rahe. "We will have this open until we have everyone set with a location or somewhere to relocate."

On Friday, cleanup was still underway at the apartment complex with crews filling dumpsters with burnt items.

The families displaced lost nearly everything and none are able to return to Woodbridge Apartments.

"Tough times are often defining," said Angela A. Broome Powley, regional executive, Red Cross Greater Carolinas Region. "During this time, the Charlotte community has been defined by its generosity and the families by their resiliency. The support has been overwhelming and heartfelt and now the families are preparing to start anew with the support of our community to buoy them."

Red Cross said In this response, additional trained volunteers opened a shelter so these families had a safe place to go.

Meanwhile, additional volunteers prepared meals, met with individuals to review medical needs, replaced medicine, provided mental health support, and in collaboration with Crisis Assistance Ministry, assisted the families in starting their overall recovery plans.

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