Thursday, July 5, 2018
After Elmhurst Fire, Queens Woman Finds Help and Resolve
By Brianna Borghi, American Red Cross in Greater New York
In late May of this year, as fire spread through her seventh-floor Elmhurst apartment, Zaydah Abdghull felt helpless watching the home she had lived in for 40 years disappear. In a matter of moments, she found herself homeless.
Abghdull, a longtime private chef, was living alone when the disaster struck. Awoken by her smoke detector at 11:30 P.M., she franticly moved through her apartment trying to determine the source of the fire.
She noticed what appeared to be a flame near the bathroom sink but when she took a closer look, she discovered the entire wall was on fire. Soon after, wearing nothing but her nightgown and slippers, Abghdull evacuated her apartment with the help of firefighters, carefully navigating around broken glass and other debris on her way out.
“I didn’t have anything, anything on me at all,” said Abghdull. “I asked myself, ‘Where I am going to go? What am I going to do?’”
By chance, Abghdull was greeted by longtime friends just inside her seven-story building, who immediately brought her back to their apartment, a few blocks down the street, to stay the night.
Two days later, someone recommended that Abgdhull visit the Red Cross for assistance since she was unable to connect with the organization when they were on scene during the fire.
“I don’t know what would have happened to me without the Red Cross,” said Abgdhull. “They were very comforting. Very comforting.”
The Red Cross helped set Abgdhull up with several nights in a hotel room and gave her a debit card with some money on it for basic necessities to help her get back on her feet.
A few days later, Abghdull returned to the Red Cross, this time to thank those who helped her and to offer her services as a volunteer.
“I have to offer something from me to the Red Cross to show them my gratitude for what they did for me. They’ve all been very, very nice. That’s why I came back here. I said, ‘I’d like to be a volunteer!’”
Abghdull continued: “Wherever it is, the Red Cross is always there. But I never realized how good they are. Extremely good. It’s way beyond beauty what they do!”