MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – While Mount Vernon firefighters were busy fighting the South Bond Street blaze that claimed four lives on Tuesday, there was a smaller, less heralded coalition of volunteers working to maintain the mental health of the victims’ family.
With police and fire personnel fighting the fire the American Red Cross arrived on the scene before 6 a.m., while the fire that took the lives of Alcedo, Nancy, Jesus and Mariselis Urena, was still roaring in the background.
Volunteers stayed on location throughout the day, comforting family members and providing essential supplies during the tragedy.
Abigail Adams, the regional communications officer for the Red Cross, said that they had a crew deployed to Mount Vernon once they heard about the fire and remained until every family member had left, after 2 p.m.
“We sent volunteers to the scene with blankets, hot beverages and snacks, and immediately requested mental health officials. It was obviously a very difficult and tragic fire,” she said. “We were on the scene until all the family members left. We provided mental health support to the family that lost loved ones, and we’re working with other families that were displaced to provide emergency housing.”
The Red Cross found lodging for six adults and one child who were displaced, and the immediate family members were put up in a hotel while they grieve.
“We work with the families to help bear the initial shock during tragic situations like this,” Adams said. “We’ll keep working with them to make sure they have the proper referrals, and we’ll help them with housing and paperwork.”
Adams added that those interested in donating to victims of fires can do so on its website . The Red Cross hasn’t had time to arrange for a specific donation box for the Urenas yet.
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