Holts Summit fire victims seeking new homes

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HOLTS SUMMIT – More than a dozen families are still picking up the pieces after a complex fire at Evergreen Condos early Monday morning.

The cause of the fire, which put about 100 people out of their homes, is still unknown. In the meantime, those who have nowhere else to go sought refuge in a Red Cross shelter, set up in the gymnasium of Union Hill Baptist Church.

Volunteers said the community’s response was “overwhelming.” Stacks of shirts, coats, shoes, and even toys for the children, filled the gymnasium for those who lost everything.

However, Red Cross employees said it's still the big things, like furniture, appliances and electronics, that these families need.

Tom Busk, who has worked for the Red Cross for two decades, said he’s seen considerable strength in the families at the shelter.

“There’s a lot of resilience and I think seeing the path ahead little by little, as it’s illuminated for the folks, that they’re starting to figure out what their plans are and things have lightened up,” he said.

Volunteer Terri McHugh said there’s one thing people need just as much as resources after a disaster. 

“Just listen,” she said. “It’s a big change in their world and to be able to just listen to them, sit down and ask, ‘Hey, are you doing okay with the situation as it has been and what do you need?’”

Busk said the majority of the families have found places to stay, but there are still two without a home. He said the problem is, those are families are very large, nine and seven people respectively, so it is difficult to find somewhere that can fit them all.

The volunteers hope the families find a new home or somewhere to stay by Friday, when the shelter closes, but Busk said the Red Cross will continue to help as needed.

He said the Red Cross cannot help without donations, which are still being accepted.

Material donations such as clothing and household items can be dropped off at Trends (Kingdom Projects) in Holts Summit. Busk said cash donations can be made by calling 1-800-Red-Cross or visiting its website