Donna Family Displaced by Fire Receiving Assistance to Rebui

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DONNA – A Donna woman is looking for a place to stay after a fire destroyed her apartment over the weekend. She said, for now, the American Red Cross is helping her.

Alma Cepeda said she found herself in a predicament early Sunday morning when her family and six other tenants in her apartment complex were left without a home.

She said she’s first and foremost grateful she was able to get her two daughters out of the building before they could be engulfed in the flames.

Cepeda said her husband did not exit right away and started looking out for others.

"My husband went knocking on the neighbors' doors so that everyone got out," she told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

He made it out safe and the immediate danger is now behind them, she explained.

Cepeda said their concern now is the future. The American Red Cross offered the family a debit card with an allowance to find a place to stay temporarily.

She said they checked into a motel in Donna for a few nights, but she needs a new place to call home.

"I have visited housing but there is a waiting list, so I'm focused on finding something affordable so we can start again," she said.

Cepeda added they lost valuable possessions. She said rebuilding their life will be tough.

The mother of two said although their apartment was not insured, they plan to get their lives back the best way they know how.

"Work. It will be difficult but we will work, we don't have another option,” she said. “The important part is that my daughters and husband and I are safe, the rest will come with time.”

Jim Denison with the American Red Cross told CHANNEL 5 NEWS his organization provides temporary immediate assistance after a fire. Those whose homes are not livable receive a small stipend and a list of referrals to call.

"The monetary assistance allows them to have some money to go to a hotel or motel. And, then the referrals allow them to go to another agency which can help them further," he explained.

Denison added, seven days after an incident, the Red Cross checks in with those who've lost their homes to see if any more help is needed. If so, his group contacts more referrals.

He said the Red Cross often deals with those whose uninsured homes or apartments go up in flames. But, he added if an apartment tenant has content insurance, they could file a claim for a new apartment.


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