Residents of the Flower Branch Apartments are still in shock after the massive explosion rocked the community Thursday morning in Silver Spring. Many are displaced and seeking help from the Red Cross at the Long Branch Community Center.
Video taken from Flower Branch apartments resident Marlon Lopez shows flames shooting out of the building after the explosion. “I was in my room when I heard the explosions, I got scared,” says Lopez. He and his neighbors ran outside. “People were knocking on doors saying, ‘get out, get out!”
Lopez’ family and his neighbors are all safe, but he still can’t go home. So for the foreseeable future, the Long Branch Community Center is where he’ll stay, along with about 70 others.
Olegareo Diaz’ brother is among those displaced. He says his brother lived in the apartments, and he was relieved and thankful to find his brother safe at the community center. “He’s so afraid about everything,” says Diaz.
Dozens and dozens of people showed up at the center in the middle of the night. Some with no shoes, in their pajamas, or just in a towel. The Red Cross Disaster team is here to help them all, offering food, water, clothing, a place to sleep and most of all, comfort. Some apartments, and everything inside, are destroyed.
“One of the buildings is basically blown in half, contents of apartments are in the streets, envelopes, socks, clothing,” says Paul Carden with the Regional Disaster Director for the Red Cross. “Many of them are in shock.”
Before the sun was up, people started showing up to help, including neighbors Alejandro and his 10-year-old niece, Madelyn Fuentes. “It’s really cold in there so they needed some clothes,” she says. “I brought them clothes. They didn’t bring any money or any telephones either. I had $2.00 so I spent it and bought them juice and chips.”
“I saw the big hole in the building and my first thought was there are people who are going to need stuff. They will need food and kids will need toys,” says Rita Mortellaro, who brought items to donate to the community center as well. Rita’s 11-year-old daughter also helped. “I just thought they would need help since their houses are destroyed and the kids might be scared so they might want something to play with,” says Kasia Malloy-Mortellaro.
Items can be dropped off at the Long Branch Community Center or donations can be made to the Red Cross.