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Archive for Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Apartment residents find places to stay

October 12, 2005

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The Boardwalk Apartments tenants who survived last week's deadly fire have found places to stay.

"The future is looking a little brighter than it did a few days ago," said Donna Watson, manager at the apartment complex, which includes the gutted building in the 500 block of Fireside Drive where three people died. A 20-year-old man was arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the fire.

"It's just real emotional," Watson said. "It's up-and-down, up-and-down; it's tears and then laughing and then tears again. There's confusion. People have lost everything, and I mean everything. A lot of them got out with only the clothes on their backs."

Watson said 84 to 86 tenants were living in the 76 units destroyed by the fire.

Some, she said, have moved to vacant units within the complex or moved in with friends or relatives. Others have been taken in by other apartment complexes.

How to help

Donations of clothes, bedding, furniture and other items are needed for survivors of Friday's fire. Donors are encouraged to call the Boardwalk Apartments office, 842-4444.

Lawrence Community InterFaith Initiative also is coordinating the giving.

"At this point, what's needed most are furniture, food and household items," said Steve Ozark, who's helping lead the church-based effort.

"A lot of clothes have come in already."

Ozark can be contacted at 760-3143.

Watson said she and her staff are opening a "store" in a vacant apartment that will serve as a clearinghouse for relief items.

"We need everything - whatever a person needs to make a home: pots, pans, towels, bedding, clothes, and toys, games and pajamas, anything for the little ones," she said.

Traumatized

Within the Boardwalk Apartments complex, 153 apartments were not damaged by the fire.

The remaining tenants, Watson said, "did not get hurt but were traumatized by what they saw, which is understandable."

Jessica Gallier, whose front door faces the rubble that once was a three-story apartment building, wants to find another apartment.

"I don't want to stay here anymore and look at that every day," she said.

Jami Nelson, 23, fled with her purse, one of her two cats and the clothes on her back. Her apartment was untouched by the blaze, however.

"I have a lot mixed emotions," she said. "The material things can be replaced - that's the only good that can come of this. But I wished it had never happened, and to think that (fire) was started intentionally and that three people were killed is just ridiculous."

Injuries, lost things

Nelson, a sixth-year student at Kansas University, said she is staying with her mother and friends. Her second cat, Chico, a black-and-gray, striped-and-marbled male, is missing.

500 block of Fireside Drive

Nelson spent part of Monday and Tuesday circulating fliers in hopes of finding Chico.

"I want my cat back really bad," she said. "That's what's hurting - that and knowing that the people who died may have been killed on purpose."

Adrianna Gomez, 28, and her husband, David, lost all of their possessions in the fire.

Adrianna Gomez is not fluent in English.

"Todo," she said, meaning she and her husband lost everything.

Two Haskell Indian Nations University students, Hughlynn Lee and Andrew Rodriguez, are known to have lost their possessions.

"Andrew was treated for third-degree burns. He has returned home to get some belongings," said Venida Chenault, academic dean at Haskell.

Lee, too, suffered minor injuries, Chenault said.

Comments

Ragingbear 9 years, 2 months ago

Do NOT, I repeat DO NOT donate to Red Cross or Goodwill. They are done helping, which was little (or none in the case of Goodwill). I know Steve Ozark, and he is a good source. Do not donate to Boardwalk apartments, they are being selective to who does and does not get donations. This is mainly only going to those who are still in the complex, because those that moved elsewhere are getting nothing from them.

How do I know this? Because I was in the fire myself.

Bob Forer 9 years, 2 months ago

Thanks for the info Ragingbear. What you say about Boardwalk Apartments makes sense. Regarding your comments on Goodwill, I had a perfectly good five year old electric stove which I hauled in my pickup to their facility, only to be refused on the grounds that they "couldn't use it." Surely, there was a family in Lawrence--some where--who had the need for this very functional and decent looking stove. Good luck in your relocation efforts. What a terrible tradegy for all, especially the families who lost loved ones.

Ragingbear 9 years, 2 months ago

The best place to coodinate donation efforts in a fair, balanced, and helpful way is to contact the Leo Center. Or send and email to pgriffith@sunflower.com She is the coordinator of the drive.

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