Thirteen people were affected by this weekend’s house fire in Elmsford, and all of them “one big family” devastated by the loss of their 2-year-old relative visiting from Barbados, said Abby Adams, regional communications officer for the Red Cross.
Red Cross volunteers were among the dozens of emergency responders—officials numbered the firefighters at around 75—at the scene on Sears Street Saturday night through Sunday morning. Four adults were reportedly injured while the toddler, unaccounted for throughout the night, was found dead in the attic on Sunday.
For the Red Cross, the most important task at a time like this, said Adams, “is to provide the mental health support to the family members, which we have been doing at the hospital around the clock."
At the scene, it’s also important for the volunteers to help keeps things as clear and safe as possible for the emergency workers, “so they can do their jobs," Adams said.
She noted that a scene like this is “also traumatic for the first responders.” The Red Cross canteens for them, keeping the refreshments coming and providing whatever support they can. They were stationed there from about 2 to 9 a.m.
“It’s very devastating. Just terrible,” Adams said.
Adams had no more exact requests for what citizens can do to help this family yet, though she was certain specific needs would arise. She said financial donations are also welcome RedCross.org, and donors can direct their contributions to this incident.
The organization was working immediately to get the 13 people housing, clothing, food. Some are in hotels, she said, others with friends and family. And again their first priority was a much bigger task: psychological support.