In the early morning hours of Thursday, August 24, Lastenia woke up to the smell of smoke. She immediately began coughing and soon realized that the apartment complex where they lived was on fire. Waking up her husband and gathering their two sons, the family escaped, but the fire soon claimed their home and everything in it.
“It was frightening – I saw the flames and the smoke, and I couldn’t breathe or think,” Lastenia said. “We gathered in the parking lot and watched the firefighters and the police, and as we realized what was happening, it started to become reality.”
The fire at the Sonora Apartments destroyed 12 of the 16 units at the complex, including Lastenia’s. The remaining four units suffered severe water and smoke damage. More than 50 people lost their homes and nearly everything in them within a matter of hours.
ADRN responded immediately to support the American Red Cross in the hours that followed. That Saturday, ADRN volunteers opened a Survivor Intake Center at our headquarters, meeting with 14 of the 16 families who lost their homes. Through the generosity of our donors and the skills of our volunteers, ADRN distributed nearly $9,000 in emergency funds and Hope Family Thrift Store vouchers; 43 Survivor Care Kits including pillows, blankets, and hygiene essentials; and more than a dozen Bibles. Two Bibles went to a family who said they were the first copies of the Scriptures that they had ever owned. Each family had an opportunity to tell their story, begin to process what they had endured, pray with trained volunteers, and find glimpses of hope in crisis.
“I don’t have enough words to explain how grateful I am for all the help that we’ve received,” said Lastenia.
Eleven families from the Sonora Apartments have asked for long-term support through ADRN’s Disaster Relief Shepherd Program. We are working with our network of churches and others in the community to get them the emotional and spiritual support they need for their long road to recovery. ADRN’s Shepherd Support staff will also continue to work with these families as they navigate the many challenges they face, and we’ll offer additional help as needs arise and resources are available.