Sunrise tenants still looking for homes

Red Cross makes public appeal for help.

A fire at Sunrise Apartments

A fire at Sunrise Apartments

There are still people left homeless by the fire at Sunrise Apartments.

The Red cross is looking to help 30 households still looking for accommodations after the explosion and fire at the apartment complex on 122nd Avenue, March 21. It left 66 households without a home, after 105 people were evacuated from the building.

The Red Cross is dealing with the emergency and Elysia Dempsey, who oversees the agency’s disaster management program, said there is still a demand for long-term housing.

Some of the residents have pets or disabilities that are limiting their options for new apartments.

“That’s creating barriers for some folks,” said Dempsey, noting that one woman has four cats.

Most are also looking for units that are on the affordable end of the rent spectrum.

“We’re really trying to put the call out,” she added.

“This is a plea to the public, for anyone who has a unit, even for a short term, so these people can get a new normal.”

Some residents lost everything in the fire, others have extensive smoke and water damage in their units, and none can access the damaged building due to fire regulations.

Dempsey said the Red Cross is working closely with Maple Ridge Emergency Social Services and other local agencies on the recovery process. In the meantime, the residents are being housed at the Quality Inn, with friends or with family.

There has been good community support for the fire victims.

Local churches are organizing donations, and there is a Facebook page where people can post if they have clothing, furniture or other donations, and connect directly with the fire victims. The page can be found by searching Sunrise Apartment Fire Donations and Support.

A post on the page by Barb Kelin: “Hi everyone. I am finding myself in need of a size 7/8 spring jacket for my daughter, size 11 rain boots for her as well. We have enough clothes for now, but those two items didn’t reach my mom radar in the stress of all that has happened to our building community. Thank you in advance to those that are able to help. God Bless!”

The page is also intended to offer some moral support for the burned-out residents.

“I’m really missing my home … having tough time. I miss my cats and I miss a regular routine. I have arthritis and can’t walk very far, and my only means of transportation was my bike which is in my apartment,” says a post from Cheryl Sam Bailey.

And there are offers of furniture, clothes and even a truck to help people move, from people in the community who want to help.

“Your community is amazing,” said Dempsey.

The Salvation Army is offering thrift store vouchers to people affected by the fires, so individuals can begin to replace many of the household items that have been lost.

“For any children in need of toys, The Salvation Army is happy to make a donation of toys to help the affected kids cope with this loss. And, anyone in need of spiritual care is encouraged to contact the Chaplain at The Salvation Army for emotional support,” said Amelia Norrie, Salvation Army public relations coordinator.

Helping out

• Anyone with an apartment unit for rent who thinks they can help is asked to call 604-848-4384.

• Anyone needing assistance with thrift store vouchers or toys can contact The Salvation Army’s Community and Family Ministries advocate, Connie, at 604-463-8296 ext. 112, or email connie.mcgonigal@caringplace.ca.

• Those who are in need of spiritual care should contact The Salvation Army’s Chaplain, John, at 604-463-8296 ext. 126, or email john.roffel@caringplace.ca.