In Pontiac, an apartment complex for senior citizens caught fire, causing the need for emergency displacement, ClickOnDetroit reports.
The fire occurred at the West Manor apartments, which are located east of Woodward Avenue on Paddox Street.
Worldwide, over 1.5 billion people suffer from chronic pain, many of them senior citizens. Considering that the apartments were primarily occupied by senior citizens and retirees, many faced difficulties evacuating the complex in time. Luckily, two bystanders, Frank Benion and his brother, jumped into action to assist residents with evacuation, so everyone was able to escape and no serious injuries were reported.
“I was going down the hall, and this gentleman came and helped me out,” said Diane Ellsworth, who relies on a wheelchair for mobility.
She says a stranger appeared from the smoke, but before she could thank him, he “just took off and went to help someone else.”
As thankful as the residents are, Benion sees his actions as nothing more than a simple act of kindness.
“We ran on over there and started knocking on windows and doors…Not realizing the danger, just going in there and doing what a fellow citizen would do,” he said.
Benion also noted that even though the fire alarm was blaring, many of the residents were shocked into immobility.
“The people were in shock,” he said. “They didn’t believe what was going on.”
Even though everybody was able to escape safely, more than 50 seniors are now in need of emergency housing, and the community is quickly coming together to provide assistance, according to The Oakland Press.
Social Security makes up at least half of all income for 65% of retirees, which means that many of the residents affected by the fire may have trouble finding permanent housing. The apartment complex sustained serious structural damage from the fire and water used to extinguish it.
July 3, Patrice Waterman, council president, called an emergency crisis meeting at Pontiac City Hall to discuss displacement options. While around half were able to reside with friends and family, some were taken to New Birth International Church on Columbia Avenue and eventually transported to the Auburn Hills Marriott.
For a long term solution, the management of West Manor Apartments is discussing options with the city to find nearby vacancies. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has also been called on for assistance, as well as Meals on Wheels.
Ultimately, many community entities are quickly stepping up to show their support and help these senior citizens recover after losing everything.
“It was devastating to stand there and watch their lives go up in flames, but I have to commend the community,” said Waterman. “They came out and said what can I do, they were there with us, coming together to help those who have lost absolutely everything.”
Those interested in helping to provide assistance can call 248-758-3133 for more information.