Silver Spring Blast: Residents moving on

The Red Cross disaster team is still on site at the Long Branch Community Center. Families have been stopping by to get help, but there’s so much that needs to be done.

It’s hard to really understand what the victims from the Flower Branch Apartments explosion are going through. Sarah Garcia is one of the residents who lost everything and for her, there are more questions than answers. She doesn’t know where she is going to live next.

There are about 90 people or so displaced, after an explosion and then fire tore through their homes, destroying almost everything. Sarah Garcia is staying at the Long Branch Community Center with her family for now. She’s thankful they are all safe, but her world was shattered.

“I feel so sad. Everything is gone, our apartment is gone, we didn’t find anything. We cant go in, everything is burned,” she says.

But life moves on, and Sarah has no choice but to keep going. She had to go to work on Thursday, the same day she lost everything, and she’s on her way back to work now.

“Now I’m going to Walmart to buy some pants and t-shirts,” says Sarah. “And then I’ll go to take a shower with some friends and go to work, but I don’t have any clothes to change (into). We don’t have anything 57 nothing at all.”

The Red Cross knows Sarah isn’t the only one here who has to work. “For many of these people, it’s a job that I only get paid for if I show up,” says Paul Carden with the American Red Cross. “I don’t get a sick day, I don’t get a vacation day so for many of them they’ve got to go to work.”

When they come home from work, they’ll have a place to go. The Red Cross will keep the Long Branch Community Center shelter open as long as it’s needed. Financial Aid, food, water, clothing, counselors and even nurses will stay on site to help. Some still need medical attention, like Trina Benitez who was hurt in the explosion. “It’s very difficult for my babies and my husband,” says Trina.

They’ll be given all the basic necessities, but the one thing they need the most, is not easy to come by: hope.

On Friday, non-profits in Montgomery County along with government officials and the Red Cross held a meeting to determine how best to help the victims. People still searching for loved ones can stop by the Long Branch Community Center to help and file a report.

Members of the community have also continued to stop by to drop off donations. Paul Carden with the American Red Cross says they are extremely thankful for the outpouring of support, but right now, cash is king. “We have more than we can physically house. Meeting rooms, conference rooms and garages are full. We don’t need any more product right now, we need the financial support.”

The best way to donate is through the Red Cross or any Montgomery County organizations that are offering assistance. “We need to be able to give them the financial support so they can sit down with the families and say you need help with rent, great, I’ve got money to do that,” says Carden.


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