Moments later, Deonca heard firefighters pounding up the stairs. She opened her front door and saw smoke pouring out of the hallway light, as well as on the stairs leading to the roof. A firefighter raced into her apartment.
“He jumps on my bed and starts hacking down the room; all of a sudden you see this black smoke coming out,” Deonca said.
Deonca, a hairdresser who had lived in the apartment for nine years, grabbed her son, Desean, eight, and ran out and across the street. All they had with them were their phones and Desean’s ninja turtle toy.
“The smoke got blacker; across the street, you could smell it coming out. It’s starting to spread in the other apartments. Panic is setting in; we’re standing there, holding our heads,” she said.
Then, the Red Cross arrived.
“They had snacks and water, crackers, cookies,” Deonca said. “I was still in shock, but I’m glad the Red Cross was there, they made us feel more hopeful.”
Red Cross put the mother and son up in a hotel for two nights, and gave them MetroCards and a debit card with which to purchase food. Since the apartment was destroyed, they also gave Deonca information about the steps she needed to take to find long-term housing.
“Red Cross was excellent, fantastic, awesome,” Deonca said. “They were there in the time of need.”