As a city we have seen apartment disasters before. We have danced this dance and played this tune.
As a volunteer I responded to both events and was there for the long haul at both. Secord II or The Wellesley fire is far worse and we did not learn enough from the first.
At Secord you had an entirely different population. There were less seniors, more immigrant and most if not all had tenants insurance. That makes a big difference.
Secord residents evacuated quickly just like the Wellesley residents thinking they would be back in a few hours. I bet you that is what the residents of Wellesley thought too. I know it was early on in the eveing.Most left their units with nothing both the bare essentials some not even carrying ID.Most left pets inside the building thinking they would return to them.
At 2 Secord the city scrambled while the Red Cross and Salvation Army were first responders and taking care of the immediate needs of residents. At 2 Secord you were not dealing with the oldest seniors, the disabled, and the mentally ill. The city was slow on its response.
The city was far from prepared for this crisis. Yet they should have been, could have been after all they had enough practice.We are now a city with a refugee camp in the middle of it. After all what would you call a make shift camp of cots and blankets, no showers, and no privacy? Definitely a refuge and nothing more. Even now at the end of day 4 there is much that needs to be done to help these residents.
The city refuses right now to give a timeline for reentry. I say some may re-enter this weekend, but I am thinking it wont be to live in their unit. It may be for a grab and go as they did with the residents of Secord. But first things first we have to find out is the building safe enough to enter. If not we are looking at a huge jump in our homeless population. Some will be told it will be months before they can re-enter their homes.
With this said the one thing that is the same on the scene is how the community comes together to bless those who are having a hard time. They become the angels in disguise.Residents were so appreciative of the donations that came in.
But having the experience of volunteering at Secord, and of being a resident of a housing complex that had its own fire I know what is ahead. I can see it coming..just like you see a train coming.
The announcement(this is me talking not the city) some will be out for weeks and some months…Yes I said months. These will be the residents closest to the source. They literally will have not much to salvage after water and smoke damaged destroyed what they had. For these residents we want to say we are here, we cry with you and are here to stand and help rebuild.
With that said this Thursday Sept 30th there will be a fundraiser with all funds raised going to the RESIDENTS. Himy Syed and I are spearheading it and are the contacts for the events but it is basically an event for residents, where residents will share stories and where the rest of us can share by listening, help them heal,and give to help them rebuild.
The Community Fundraiser for the Residents of 200 Wellesley St. will be on Thursday September 30th at 519 Church St in the auditorium from 7-9. I invite you to come to listen and to bring your check book or a gift card