Monday, April 14, 2014

Manhattan Resident Finds Peace of Mind Following Home Fire

Ana Maria shares her story with Greater NY Red Cross CEO Josh Lockwood.

by Dora He, American Red Cross Greater NY Region

Upper West Side resident Ana Maria never expected that her life would be touched by the American Red Cross. This past March, the teacher’s assistant was just settling into what she thought would be a relaxing evening after work. But that peace and quiet was disturbed when her neighbor stopped by and asked, “Are you cooking something, or is something burning?”

As she turned around to check her kitchen, Ana Maria saw thick smoke. She immediately called 911. As someone who suffers from asthma, she knew she had to get out of the apartment before she inhaled too much smoke. She grabbed her dog, Rodrick, and ran along with her neighbor and his two sons, who helped her out of the brownstone.

Outside, Ana Maria was greeted by two Red Cross responders. After making sure she was okay, because of the sub-zero temperature that night, they escorted her to their warm van. When firefighters deemed it safe to go back inside, Ana Maria found that her apartment had been destroyed. Because of this, the Red Cross volunteers provided Ana Maria with a prepaid debit card that would allow her to buy some new clothes and food.

Ana Maria ended up staying with a friend—who lived in the same building as Ana Maria’s sister — although she had considered the hotel accommodations offered by the Red Cross. Ultimately, she wanted to be close to her family.

Ana Maria recalled one moment that stood out to her during that difficult time. When a Red Cross caseworker called to ask Ana Maria if she needed help replacing her medications, Ana Maria said she was fine. Nevertheless, her caseworker said, “If things change and you need anything, call me back.”  Ana Maria described the encounter as “really reassuring.”
“The Red Cross gave me peace of mind. I didn’t know I was going to have that kind of reception,” she said. “The Red Cross volunteers made me feel good because they gave me hope. They said, ‘We’re here to help you; anything you need—that’s what we’ll do.’”

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