MILWAUKEE — The local chapter of the American Red Cross says they responded to more than 25% of their yearly calls in the first two months of 2021. The responses were driven by a large number of fires in Milwaukee.
The organization helped 1,000+ people in January and February. They helped a total of 4,000 in 2020.
One event even ranked in the top three of national Red Cross responses during the last week of January. Only to be bested by an ice storm response in southern states, an apartment fire at a 105-unit building on Jan. 28 was the third-largest disaster that week. The fire killed one and injured another on 29th and Mitchell on Milwaukee’s south side.
“All of those residents were displaced immediately and they were displaced for five weeks,” said Red Cross Wisconsin Chapter CEO Mark Thomas.
Because of COVID-19, the people displaced had to be housed in individual family units in local hotels. During a regular year without social distancing requirements, they may have been housed at a shelter. The response included 2,000 hotel room nights, 7,000 meals, 3,800 snacks and 113 staff and volunteers from five different states.
“The folks that were involved in that fire are better off five weeks later than they were on the first couple of nights after it happened,” said Thomas.
The last two people who were in hotel rooms checked out and found more permanent housing on March 3.