Thursday, February 6, 2014
Red Cross Helps Manhattan Mother and Young Daughter
As a single mother who works as a waitress and hostess, Elizabeth Huerta had many things to worry about. Like most people, the last thing she wanted to deal with was a disaster at home. Yet, one morning in December, she and her seven-year-old daughter woke to heavy smoke and flames in their Manhattan apartment.
“I was unconscious because of the smoke for about 15 minutes,” Elizabeth recalled. “I couldn’t hear anything—not even the fire alarm. My daughter was crying and screaming. She couldn’t breathe. It was a terrible moment for her.” Elizabeth was so shocked that she had trouble understanding exactly what happened. But before she knew it, she and her daughter were safely outside, rescued by firefighters.
The flames, caused by an electrical fire on the floor below, ended up destroying their apartment, and charred the surrounding apartments as well. Two Red Crossers arrived to help Elizabeth after she and her daughter arrived home from the hospital, after being checked for smoke inhalation. They assessed the damage to the apartment and gathered necessary information. For the time being, Elizabeth and her daughter decided to stay with Elizabeth’s mother.
The pair received a debit card with money on it from Red Cross to cover food costs for a little bit, and help purchase some clothes. In addition to receiving guidance from a Red Cross caseworker, Elizabeth is reaching out to the NYC Department of Housing for help as she searches for another affordable living space somewhere else in the city. Like many people, Elizabeth was not aware of the Red Cross’s services in cases of home fires.
“I never imagined that the Red Cross could help me,” Elizabeth said. “You were the first to come to me and tell me, ‘We can help you,’ and I’m very thankful. You offered me services that I didn’t even know existed.”