SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A fire tore through a Springfield home Saturday night, displacing eight people. The Red Cross has stepped in to help, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is operating differently.
The disaster program manager for the American Red Cross for central and western Massachusetts told Western Mass News that they had to adapt to make sure that clients don’t have to face a disaster alone.
Crews on the scene on Pasadena Street in Springfield battled a fire in a three-story home.
Fire officials told Western Mass News that the fire started in a first-floor bedroom, but it’s still unclear how, and now eight people are without a home.
But the manager told us - over the phone - that the Red Cross has stepped in to help.
"The Red Cross wanted to make sure no clients that faced a disaster went without Red Cross services," said manager Mary Nathan.
Typically, the Red Cross is on the scene helping people who have been displaced by the fire, but due to COVID-19, the organization is having to adapt...sending only one volunteer to interact with clients, and initiating all other communication with families virtually.
"We will physically drop off materials for them, cupboard kits which are a pack of toiletries, information, it’s packed with information on what to do next," Nathan explained.
She said that it’s difficult to not be able to physically be there for someone who is watching their world get flipped upside down.
"When we would arrive on scene we would be able to visually see the stress level of the client go down because now they’ve got somebody standing there on the sidewalk with them; telling them what the next steps will be," she said. "We’re doing that over the phone. There’s a little bit less of that in-person interaction which does have a lot of value."
Nathan also said they can provide the same service to families as they normally would, but the new normal has some challenges.
"It was kind of hard at first to train the volunteers to use the technology and teach them how to embrace the new technology," Nathan noted.
She told us for anyone interested in volunteering with the Red Cross, you can click here.