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STRATFORD Donations sought for condo residents

September 5, 2018

STRATFORD — The more than two dozen people who lost their homes in a condominium fire at 685 Success Ave. near the Bridgeport line last week still need help.

Although the local community has rushed to give aid, donations of cash and other home goods — minus clothing — are badly needed to help the displaced get back to a normal routine, said officials in Town Hall and the Sterling House Community Center.

“We really have all of the clothing that we might need now,” said Amanda Meeson, executive director of the Sterling House, where many of the donations are being collected. “It’s like Macy’s up there on third floor.”

On Tuesday, Mayor Laura Hoydick got into the act; she was the celebrity bartender at a hastily arranged fundraiser that took place at the Beach House Grill near the entrance to Short Beach. Organized by the Sterling House, the proceeds will be used to fund the fire relief effort.

“It’s a rapidly evolving effort and there are several pieces to the puzzle,” said Lawrence A. Ciccarelli Jr., the town’s director of public safety. “Some of those displaced owned their units, so they had fire insurance. But some were renters, and many of those people didn’t carry fire insurance, so we’re trying to determine the needs of everyone involved. It’s a mixed bag.”

He said that the residents, except those who could stay with friends and family, are being provided with a total of eight days’ free lodging in area hotels, with some of those days paid for by the Red Cross — for the first three days — and the rest by the town and through donations.

“We’re at the stage now where we’re helping them help themselves — obtaining housing and whatever else that they might need,” Ciccarelli said, “and also dealing with their insurance companies and so forth.”

Initially, donations of food and clothing were being collected at Police Headquarters owing to the holiday weekend, but collections moved to the Sterling House Community Center Tuesday morning. officials said

Cash donations are badly needed for those displaced, many of whom have little else but the clothes that they were wearing at the time, Meeson said.

“If you can help, go to our website and when you click on ‘donate’ you can specify ‘Success Ave. Relief’ when you make the donation,” she said. “One hundred percent of the contributions will be used to support these residents in need.”

She said it will take time before the displaced are settled in new homes.

“Later, they’ll need things like lamps. tables, housewares and that sort of thing,” Meeson said, adding that the heat wave hasn’t helped matters any.

Ciccarelli said that Stratford Community Services is the agency that’s there to help people navigate the resources available to them. That agency can be reached at 203-385-4095, or at communityservices@townofstratford.com during business hours.

The fire last week rapidly spread through the complex destroying more than half of the building. There were no life-threatening injuries reported, but officials say that what’s left of the building will have to be demolished after the investigation on the cause is wrapped up.

“Our hearts go out to all of those who have been impacted by this terrible event,” said Hoydick. “Our primary concern is that anyone who is displaced by this fire receives shelter, clothing and food as needed until they have made proper arrangements for themselves. We want to make sure everyone who needs help gets it.”

jburgeson@ctpost.com

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