ITEM PHOTO BY SPENSER HASAK
The aftermath of the 4-alarm fire on Taft Street in Revere that left 18 people homeless.
By MATT DEMIRS
The Revere community is opening up their hearts to support victims of the Taft Street fire.
The four-alarm blaze early Tuesday morning destroyed two homes and left 18 residents with no place to go.
“Two structures were destroyed and five others were damaged,” said Joe Gravallese, aide to Revere Mayor Brian M. Arrigo. “We reached out to first Congregational Church, who set up a staging location where victims were able to come sit in the air conditioning, get water, and meet with caseworkers.”
Caseworkers from the American Red Cross came to the church to work with these families by supplying vouchers.
“They were able to provide two things for each of the families,” he said. “A voucher to a hotel for approximately three days and also caseworkers who will help navigate them through the process to receive services for the time they need to get back on their feet.”
Despite receiving a housing voucher, residents had difficulties finding a spot.
Gravellese, Arrigo, and Ward 1 City Councilor, Joanne McKenna, spent time Tuesday calling to to find vacancies at local hotels.
“We found that it was really tough to find vacancies yesterday. I guess a lot of local hotels are booked up because of Sail Boston,” Gravellese said.
By 5:30 p.m., they were able to find rooms for the last couple of families.
Local businesses began offering support, including the Rodeway Inn in Revere, which generously donated a two-night stay to each of the affected families.
The mayor and his team are working to establish a relief fund, which should be set up by Thursday morning at East Boston Savings Bank, as well as scheduling fundraising events.
“I’ve also been in really close conversation with CAPIC and the Metro Boston Housing partnership, and with housing families out of Boston, which are agencies that do legal services, housing, fuel, assistance, to set up a time where the families can meet with these caseworkers and see what assistance may be available,” Gravellese said.
All affected families are invited to First Congregational Church, 230 Beach St., on Friday between the hours of 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. to meet with these caseworkers.
Members of Taft Street are still disoriented.
A pair of 12-year-old twins, Elisha and Shania, stood outside the scene of the fire on Wednesday talking to neighbors about the tragic incident.
“I thought I smelled smoke Tuesday morning and opened up my blinds and saw fire,” said Elisha, who then signaled her mother, left the house, and took shelter down the street.
The girls are friends with the 12-year-old boy who lives in the house and recalled playing on his playground last summer.
“He’s really shaken up,” Shania said. “To make the boy feel better, our principal made him vice principal of the day to cheer him up.”
“We are just blessed that our house didn’t get destroyed and nobody was seriously injured,” Elisha said.
Matt Demirs can be reached at [email protected]