How the American Red Cross assists those displaced by house fires

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(ABC 6 News) – When a family is displaced by a house fire, one of their first thoughts might be “what now?” and “where do I go?” That’s where the American Red Cross comes in, but there might be some misconceptions about what the organization does in these situations.

When a family is displaced, the American Red Cross does not pick where that family might stay. But it does offer financial and emotional support.

When a scene is settled, the fire department calls the Red Cross in. Depending on what happened and the size of the family, the Red Cross gives the family a gift card. The family can use that money for housing, clothing, or whatever they might need.

“So the American Red Cross has a mission to respond when disasters occur and that includes house fires,” said Melanie Tschida, Executive Director of the Southeast Minnesota Chapter of the American Red Cross.

“So we budget a certain number of house fires. It’s always a guess. We never know how many are going to happen.”

Insurance does not play a role in how much assistance a family might get because they can’t always access that money right away. Fires though can happen at any time and if it wasn’t for volunteers like Tanya Oberg, families wouldn’t get immediate assistance.

Oberg has been a Red Cross volunteer for more than 15 years. A full-time worker, she spends her evenings and weekends volunteering. Mostly working in Olmsted and Fillmore Counties, she said she does it because of being able to give comfort to families.

ABC 6 asked Oberg what stories have stuck with her the most throughout the years and she said it’s the families with young kids, or pets that come to mind.

“What we provide is a gift and they should never feel like it’s not deserved,” said Oberg.

‘Because some people want to say ‘I don’t need it, somebody else needs it more.’ We all deserve a comforting hand once-in-awhile, a helping hand. So be aware that we are here and reach out if you need us.”

For more information on what to do after a house fire, you can click here.