BENEFITING: UPSTATE HOMELESS COALITION OF SOUTH CAROLINA
EVENT DATE: Jan 23, 2016
Fire broke out at 8.10pm on 11/3/14 at a 12 apartment complex for persons with disability. The Fire department had extinguished the fire and Red Cross were on their way. It was evident 4 units had been damaged – 2 completely destroyed and 2 badly smoke damaged. 3 tenants were awarded hotel vouchers for three days by Red Cross (although one person first went to hospital due to breathing problems.) The fourth tenant was taken by helicopter to an area hospital. It became evident what had happened…..tenant AS, a wheel chair bound gentleman who needed to use oxygen, was heard by his neighbor, RT yelling for help. RT exited his home to find his neighbor attempting to leave his unit engulfed in flames from the neck down. With incredible courage RT went back into his apartment and retrieved a fire extinguisher. He extinguished the flames. Soon RT’s unit was ablaze, 2 adjacent units were filled with smoke. Having seen the fire, members of a near-by church were soon on site. They pulled AS to the ground, wrapped and treated him until he was air lifted to hospital. RT rescued his little dog but left his home with nothing else. In the week that followed UHC staff remained on site to support all tenants. Sadly AS passed away in hospital due to the extent of his burns. Red Cross were set up on site by UHC to counsel both tenants and staff. One tenant went to his parent’s house, for two others Red Cross extended the hotel stay another 2 days. After this time UHC picked up payment for the hotels so that the tenants would not be displaced again. From 11/3/14 through 1/7/15 RT stayed there (the other tenant had already submitted her notice to relocate prior to the fire.) RT received regular case management, counseling and transportation from UHC. He was given several staff numbers to call if he needed anything or just wanted to chat. For the holiday season invites were extended to RT if he had no plans. When cleared to do so by investigators RT was escorted into his unit – nothing was left, including his moped which had been outside. Upon learning that his unit would take 4-6 months to repair, RT was placed into one of UHC’s social service programs and moved to a close by apartment, complete with its own washer and dryer. Salvation Army was contacted to obtain all household and personal items that RT would need to set up his home. Case management continues. Although his damaged unit has been reapaired and RT has returned to his original apartment where he and his little dog are doing well, his independence has not yet been completely restored. You see, the freedom he had to get around ended when his moped was destroyed. Despite our best efforts, we have not found a dealer that would donate one. Please help get RT become mobile again. Thank you!