The Charlotte Red Cross closed its shelter for the Woodscape Apartment fire victims on Monday, two weeks after an arsonist left 130 people homeless.
At its peak, 79 of the 130 victims were staying in the shelter, officials said. The last of them moved out Monday morning, into a new home. In all, 40 units in the east Charlotte apartment community sustained some level of damage in the fire, officials said.
“This was an unusual shelter operation for the Red Cross,” said a statement from Angela Broome Powley, regional executive officer for the Red Cross.
“While home fires are the most common disaster the Red Cross responds to, they rarely make the news. They also rarely require a shelter and when they do, the shelter is usually open a few days at the most.”
The Red Cross opened the shelter on July 17, the morning of the fire, to give the displaced tenants a safe place to go. Agency volunteers prepared meals, met with individuals to review any medical needs, replaced medicine, provided mental health support, and assisted them in starting their overall recovery plans, Red Cross officials said.
“Every family had its own issues and unique challenges,” said Broome Powley.
“It is only through the generosity of our donors, and the collaboration of partner agencies and other groups that together we have been able to really move the needle for these families.”
Partners in the relief effort included Crisis Assistance Ministry, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, New Hope Baptist Church, United Central Methodist Church and Charlotte Clergy for Justice.
Crisis Assistance Ministry took the lead in longer term recovery, helping families with rent, utility deposits and transfers of service. The agency also provided referrals for families who lost everything in the fire, so they could get furniture, appliances and household goods through at the city’s Free Story and Furniture Bank. Both stores provide all products at no cost to people who are recovering from homelessness.
Red Cross officials say 131 total people were helped by the shelter in some capacity. That includes 2,600 meals that were served by volunteers.