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Resource reception planned for Holts Summit fire survivors

Resource reception planned for Holts Summit fire survivors

January 29th, 2019 by Helen Wilbers in Local News

In this Jan. 21, 2019 file photo, the smoke rises from debris as a displaced tenant observes the scene following a fire that destroyed the Evergreen apartments in Holts Summit.

Photo by News Tribune /News Tribune.

Survivors of last week's apartment fire in Holts Summit can access many resources in one convenient location this Thursday.

Callaway County officials are planning a reception center from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursday in the Callaway County Health Department meeting room, 4950 County Road 304 in Fulton. All residents of the now-destroyed Evergreen Apartments complex are invited to attend.

"What we're trying to do is get them as much help as we can," said Kent Wood, CCHD's environmental and public health specialist. "A week later, survivors are realizing, 'I don't have that pan, or that wooden spoon, or that picture.'"

American Red Cross case workers, representatives from several agencies in the Callaway Resource Network, insurance agents and others will be on hand to talk about aid options available to affected families. Wood also hopes to have mental health professionals present.

"The shock is probably just wearing off, a week later," Wood said.

At least 30 families were displaced when Evergreen Apartments burned to the ground in the early morning of Jan. 21. No injuries or deaths were reported among the survivors or firefighting personnel. While the scale of the destruction made pinpointing an exact cause impossible, signs pointed to a possible electrical origin, according to Holts Summit fire authorities.

The American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter for families in a local church, and area residents responded with donations of food, water and clothing.

Central Missouri Community Action will be among the agencies present Thursday, as a member of Community Organizations Active in Disaster.

"The purpose is to show the community that our response and our services are actively present when there is a disaster or a crisis," said Kellie Pontius of CMCA. "We want to be able to get families additional resources, not only through CMCA's programs."

CMCA will help assess families' needs and match them up with organizations that can help, she said.

Wood said he's heard most of the former Evergreen Apartments residents currently have lodging arranged. The reception center will focus on making sure other basic needs are in place. For example, some people may need help accessing medications, finding furniture and acquiring renters' insurance.

"If there are veterans there, we can steer to one of the veterans' programs," Wood said.

"We want to help (the survivors) get underway a little better," he added. "We want to help them not just now, but to get them on a good, firm path for the future."

He said the county has a list of the survivors' names and has been attempting to contact them, but some have been hard to reach. Wood asked for help spreading the word to survivors.

"If they have an issue with transportation, I encourage them to contact SERVE," he said. "They're great to work with."

Fulton-based Serve Inc. can be contacted at 573-642-6388.

For more information about Thursday's reception center event, contact Wood at 573-826-1024.