Long road to recovery for victims of Turner Plaza apartment fire

Long road to recovery for victims of Turner Plaza apartment fire
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POSTED: Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Saturday, February 1, 2014 - 8:04am

This was a bad week to be out in the cold. But that was the reality for dozens of people whose apartments burned down in a fire.

Turner Plaza has seen more than its share of tragedy over the years, including a stabbing in which a son allegedly killed his mother last fall. Earlier this week, 40 people lost their homes because of a fire. Residents of Turner Plaza are generally not people who can quickly pick up and start over.

"Not only elderly, but some of them are disabled, said Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle, whose district includes the complex. "None of them had insurance; this is a HUD property. They lost everything that they had."

"I mean, it's been hard, cause they don't have nowhere to put us in," Reginald Williams said. Williams was living with his aunt, who had an apartment that was destroyed by the fire.

The Red Cross opened a shelter inside the gymnasium at BREC North Street Park, but that closed Thursday. Most people had family to stay with. But others struggled to find a warm place to spend the night during the coldest week Baton Rouge has seen in years.

"You know, the shelters and stuff, they full, they packed, so it's kind of hard right now," Williams stated

Marcelle launched a clothing drive, as has the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging. Both are also asking for furniture, dishes, personal items, and anything someone might need to get by. So far, people are donating.

"That's what I love about Baton Rouge," Marcelle said. "When one of us is in trouble, the entire community kind of comes forth and brings the items that we need."

Williams does not yet know what he and his family need.

"They don't really want to let you in right now," he said. "They got all the tape and stuff."

But he won't be able to replace it all on his own.

The Council on Aging is accepting donations at its main office at 5790 Florida Blvd. Marcelle is running her donation drive out of the MLK Community Center at 4000 Gus Young Drive. But since it was closed the last couple days during the storm, she went out and personally picked up whatever people had to offer.

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