Red Cross Comes To Aid Of Fire Victims

Agency To Pay More Than $8,000 For Mobile Home Repairs

February 09, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff writer

MOUNT AIRY — The charred face and hair of Donna Kaye Jones' baby doll is one of the few remaining traces from a fire that destroyed a room in the family's mobile home in October.

Donna Kaye, 12, her 10-year-old brother Christian and their grandparents had a lot going for them: No one was hurt in the fire that started in a shed and spread to their home that Sunday morning.

Part of the roof and most of Donna Kaye's bedroom was destroyed, and they had no way to fix it.

But after several applications and review by Red Cross workers in Washington, the non-profit agency has agreed to pay $8,366 for the repairs.

"At first, we just thought we'd try it ourselves, and when our son got better, he'd come up," said Christine Jones, 70.

She and her husband, Grover "Ed" Jones, 69,did a lot of work on their home before she hurt her back last summer. Their son, who lives in Florida, is a carpenter, but was suffering from a serious poison oak infection.

They also had offers of help from church friends who own a contracting firm, but mobile home construction is so specific that only specially trained contractors in Baltimore County could complete the job.

That meant money, and the Jones' had no insurance. Additionally, they couldn't get a loan becauseof their age, low income, medical problems, and because banks don't put much value on mobile homes, said Amy Gaver, a case worker with the American Red Cross in Carroll County.

In the meantime, neighborsand church friends put up a temporary plywood wall and tarpaulin roof.

"It stayed up all right until the wind got up, then it roared like thunder," Christine Jones said.

Another neighbor allowed the family to run an electrical line into her box until the utility company replaced the one damaged by the fire. The line supplied low-level electricity, but not enough for the dryer and other large appliances, Gaver said.

Because of an unusual set of circumstances, community support just wasn't enough to help this family through this disaster,Gaver said.

So a month after the fire, Gaver realized she would have to take an extraordinary step. She asked the national Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., for more than $8,000 to help repair the home in Pheasant Ridge trailer park, and the agency granted the request last month.

The national headquarters calls it "additional assistance," but it's so rarely granted that Gaver knows of no other such requests in recent years from the Central Maryland region. The headquarters usually reserve such aid for large-scale disasters such as floods and hurricanes, she said.

"I have to exhaust every possibility first before I apply for additional assistance," Gaver said. "It came down to there was nothing else."

Usually, local emergency assistance is limited to $1,500 or less from the Red Cross, which relies primarily on donations.

While fixing one room in a mobile home may not have sounded like much, it became a complicated project, Gaver said. First of all, mobile home construction is not like other carpentry, so a special contractor had to be hired.

Now that the roof and siding are replaced, the wind no longer howls through the home, Christine Jones said. Donna Kaye has her room back and doesn't have tosleep on the couch.

The community help continues: The Jaycees anda friend have offered to rebuild the shed, and the electricity has been restored.

One neighbor even bought Donna Kaye a new doll, although she still favors her old one, melted face and all.

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