In recent months, the American Red Cross Rhode Island Chapter has opened shelters in the wake of major fires in Warwick and Woonsocket, where nearly 100 people were forced from their homes.

In Warwick, a March 11 fire destroyed an entire building at the Westgate condominium and 38 families everything they had, including in some cases a beloved family pet. Red Cross team members were on scene within the first hour comforting families, helping them assess their emergency needs and offering support.

In the days following the Westgate Condominium fire, 34 Red Cross volunteers worked with nearly 50 people in 35 displaced families, providing direct financial support to provide for food, clothing and household needs as well as emotional support to those who needed it and links to other community resources for needs including clothing, furniture and leads on new homes. The Red Cross committed more than $22,000 in direct financial assistance to residents in the wake of this fire.

Another major fire in the early morning hours of April 9 in Woonsocket displaced 40 people. Again, Red Cross team members were on the scene soon after receiving the request for help. We opened a shelter to provide a safe, warm place to stay and began right away to meet with each family individually to determine their needs to help them begin their recovery. As we prepare this article, residents are receiving help with emergency food, clothing and household needs, and the Red Cross is working with City agencies and community partners to link families to long term recovery resources.

The American Red Cross responds to an average of 70,000 disasters each year, the majority of which are home fires. The same is true here in Connecticut and Rhode Island, where most of the average 1,000 emergencies we respond to each year are home fires. Many of those fires displace multiple families.

When fire strikes, the Red Cross is there to offer hope, comfort and support to help families begin their personal recovery. We know what fire can take from a family, so we are also working to help communities prepare by reaching out, neighbor-to-neighbor, with information and tools to help reduce the numbers of injuries and deaths due to home fires. We are visiting homes in communities across Connecticut and Rhode Island to share fire safety planning information and to offer free installation of long-life smoke alarms in homes where no working smoke alarms are currently installed.

Visit our home fire safety page for information and tips to keep your family safe. And help us be there when disaster strikes or a fire devastates a family by making a donation.

Your support powers the compassionate response of Red Cross volunteers who are on the scene to help our neighbors when they need it most. Thank you for your generous support of the Red Cross that helped us to respond in Warwick and will help us to respond next time, whenever and wherever we are needed.

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