By Cathryn Kennedy, Red Cross Volunteer, Twin Cities Area Chapter
By 10 a.m. the list of tasks was getting long. Shelter Manager Ruth Talford needed to order pizzas for lunch, arrange transportation to off-site showers, and set up two family meeting rooms, including one for discussing financial assistance and another for providing stress relief and counseling. Later in the afternoon, Talford would need to help families get to where they could request government emergency assistance funds.
Meanwhile families in the shelter were busy, too.
Grandmother Eva Dale needed emergency medical care for care of her feet, but first she had to prepare granddaughter Kiara for kindergarten. That meant finding some school clothes and transportation to Kiara’s elementary school.
Red Cross volunteers sprung into action and within 15 minutes Kiara was decked out in a school outfit and winter coat, but she still needed shoes. So did her sister, Kiana, as well as Grandmother Eva. Shoes were in short supply so one volunteer was given names of two nearby neighbors who had offered to help.
The night of the fire Eva was caring for her granddaughters, while their mother was in Iowa. Eva woke up in the night smelling smoke and when she opened the window for ventilation, she saw flames leaping out of a neighbor’s apartment and a parent yelling for help. She awoke her granddaughters and dropped them out the window to waiting rescue workers before jumping out herself. With no time to get shoes, Eva suffered frostbite, and getting her to a doctor was added to the shelter manager’s list urgent things to do.
Meanwhile, Bloomington school bus driver Tim Hamm, who had Kiara on his route, stopped by to see if she was all right. Asking how he could help, he offered to purchase some diapers for a couple of younger children.
Two-year-old Riley and his mother were waiting for a cab to take him to day care, and other families were headed out to go buy new clothes with Red Cross vouchers.
Before noon nine pizzas arrived and after some nourishment everyone went back to work helping families get lives back in order after a fire disaster.