CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It’s been two weeks since a fire destroyed the Regal Apartment building in downtown Charleston. 32 families were left without homes and heartbroken as they watched their homes burn and then be demolished.
According to Margaret O’Neal, President of the Central West Virginia United Way, 22 of the families displaced have been rehoused. The rest are expected to be housed sometime next week.
“There’s about 32 families or individuals that lost everything they own in a blink,” O’Neal said. “That’s long-term recovery and it takes a little bit of time for people to find their feet and figure out what they need and where they want to go.”
Mayor Amy Goodwin said finding housing is just the beginning to help get these residents back on their feet.
“Even though we say it’s two weeks, two weeks is still a long time for someone who may still not be housed or still working on housing and someone who is trying to literally build their life back up,” Goodwin said. “Two weeks is not a lot of time to do that. It will take years for most of these folks to get back truly on their feet and a good place again.”
Since the day of the fire, several organizations have assisted with recovery efforts including the United Way, Red Cross, Mountain Mission and many others.
O’Neal said the United Way has raised over $72,000 to help the fire victims. She said part of that total was raised through a BBQ Fundraiser hosted by the Charleston Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.
“We’re ordering furniture today and if you hear somebody talking we’re asking what color couch you’d like to have,” she said. “It is a little bit of a process for 32 different units, but we’re trying to do it case by case and give them back as much as they can even though you can’t fix it.”
According to a city spokesperson, the Building Commission has been working on preliminary work to clean up the site, but they will begin the heavy lifting to remove what is left of the building and the belongings inside later this week.