On January 11, at 4:30am, a fire broke out at 3 Dillon Road, in the adjacent apartment building in the complex where my mother and I live. A downstairs neighbor called, screaming for us to get out, as the smoke alarms on our side of the building did not go off. My 76 year old mother, who is widowed, (my father passed away in 2015) suffers from heart disease and COPD, ran out first, clad only in her pajamas and wearing flip flops while I scrambled to grab my two dogs and my car keys. An apartment on the 4th floor in the adjacent building was fully engulfed, black smoke was shooting from the front windows, and the sound of screaming and glass breaking resonated in the darkness. Barefoot, I ran to my car in the snow and locked my dogs, Maggie and Molly, inside while I ran back to check on my mother and our many neighbors. First responders from Mamaroneck, Larchmont, Scarsdale and New Rochelle quickly arrived on the scene, and the fire was extinguished within ten minutes. But many of the residents were suffering from smoke inhalation, including three small children who were asleep on the mattress that sparked the fire. My mother needed a breathing treatment, so she was escorted to an ambulance where the family was being treated. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, and we expected to be allowed to return to our side of the building, which was not involved in the fire.
We were allowed to return, but unfortunately, within a few hours, we were told that the entire complex was to be evacuated. The fire inspectors discovered a slew of code violations, and power could not safely be restored. The Building Inspector has since revoked the Certificate of Occupancy, and the entire complex is indefinitely closed until the many serious code violations are remediated. My mother and I and Maggie and Molly, were able to stay with a friend for a few days, before relocating to a hotel thanks to some emergency assistance from The Red Cross. We are currently waiting on the Department of Social Services to process our case, and to hopefully provide us with Temporary Assistance and finances for new housing. We are actively searching for a new apartment, but it is challenging as my mother relies on Rent Subsidy to supplement her pension and Social Security. I am confident we will find a new apartment soon, but financially, we cannot remain in a hotel indefinitely. Assistance from The Red Cross, as well as from family, friends and my savings will only last for so long.
This fire could have been devastating, as those three children could easily have died if not for the First Responders from the Mamaroneck Police Department, and a heroic neighbor who carried the oldest boy down the stairwell when he became overwhelmed by the smoke. We are so grateful that it was not more serious and we emerged relatively unscathed, albeit stressed and strained and strapped financially. My mother and I do not know how much longer this process will take. When starting this Go Fund, I had absolutely no clue how much money to ask for! Enough to keep us in a hotel for at least a few weeks?
My mother is stubborn and independent, and not accustomed to asking for help, but she is 76 years old and not in the best of health. I am also hesitant to ask any one for anything, but this situation is like nothing I have ever experienced. I want to keep my mom, and my dogs (her beloved granddogs) safe and warm until we find a new home, and I cannot afford to do it alone.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. And thank you from the bottom of our hearts and the tips of my dog's wet noses for your help.
- Alissa Ruggiero
- Alan Goldman
- Beata Mione
- Andrew Cooper-Leary
Organizer and beneficiary
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