Burned Away of Their Homes, They Gathered for Thanksgiving

“We’ve adapted to the customs here on our conditions,” she said as she took a bite of turkey, her fractured knee extended in a brace.

There have been no fatalities, however the massive fire injured nine people, the Fire Department said. It drew more than 250 firefighters and emergency employees, destroyed the very best two flooring surfaces of the six-floor building and left the different floors with major water damage. The cause continues to be under investigation and the establishing has remained shut as the Properties Department investigates safety circumstances.


The Crimson Cross relocated 11 families to hotels and shelters soon after the fire. Additional tenants transferred in temporarily with family and friends. Now, regional officials say they will work with nonprofit agencies and the Division of Housing Preservation & Creation to locate vacant and affordable flats for the displaced families.

“That building was like a village where people had become almost like an extended family and the collective loss was felt by every person whether they were on the top floor or the bottom floor,” said the City Council member Mark Levine, whose district includes Hamilton Heights.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, members of the Dominican community and neighbors of Hamilton Heights pitched in. Mr. Levine explained his district office has been flooded with boxes of donations: outfits, medicine, personal hygiene items. Most of the donations had been passed out to families after the dinner on Wednesday.

In a modest setting – a bare, white bedroom that overflowed with persons sitting at folding tables – the tenants feasted, briefly forgetting their ordeal. They explained they felt reassured by the occurrence of their elected officials: Representative Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat of NY, and Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, had been in attendance.


Prior to the meal, Aura Añasco, among the older residents of the establishing at 79, stood and led a prayer in Spanish. Tenants kept hands, closed their eyes and listened.

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“Lord Jesus, here you possess a group of your sons and daughters, supplying thanks because we are alive,” Ms. Añasco, formerly from the Dominican Republic, explained. “We thank God, america, and this community that has supported us.”

After sitting down, Ms. Añasco didn’t touch her food as others ate turkey, rice, potato salad and avocado. Other issues loomed: Her residency paperwork might have been destroyed; she even now hadn’t recovered the remedies to treat pain she had been feeling after eyes surgery; she needed another location to live.

She had been sleeping at her daughter’s apartment since the fire, taking the bed while her girl, Susana, slept on the couch. But she wants to offer her daughter personal privacy and feels she must shortly move out.

“I would like to have an apartment again, where I could be comfortable,” she explained, using her food and staring at the families at other tables. “I don’t think I’ll take in because I’m not cheerful enough, but it’s marvelous to observe everyone else so cheerful.”

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