Mom & 47 Seniors & Disabled Lost everything 2 Fire Orange Tx

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

The above link shows my mom and some other residents watching the fire that took everything but their lives. Mom (Ruby Holst) is the one in red pants (donated by a friend). The fire started Wednesday night and firefighters stayed around the clock putting out hot spots. There were nine fire departments there. In spite of all the efforts the blaze erupted again at 6:00 in the morning on Thursday.

Prayers are really needed here.

This was the most beautiful and peaceful complex for seniors or disabled people. My mom has lived there for 13 wonderful years. The people there had such strong connections with each other. They cooked for each other when one was ill. They looked out for each other in so many ways. Most of the seniors were people who had lost a spouse and found it easier to be in an apartment of this nature rather than maintain their homes anymore. The seniors and the disabled who lived here were mostly on social security as their only income.

Medicare is not paying for new medicines until the next due dates. Medical equipment is not being replaced if it had not reached an age of due replacement. Many of the scooter type chairs were lost, walkers, wheel chairs, lift recliner chairs, breathing treatment machines, oxygen equipment, bathing lifts, and so much more. The fire started at night and many had already put on night clothes and walked out without even their teeth or shoes or anything but what they had on.

Some of these people have outlived all their friends and family and have no where else to go. Some are in their 90's. The Orange area is still in recovery mode from hurricane Ike and all of the available rentals in the area are taken by those displaced by the storm.

Most of these people no longer drive, so they will have difficulties getting around to try to replace all of their needed items.

The manager and her team are trying to help find places for those without family or friends. Some are going to be staying in a fellowship hall of a local church. The red cross is giving out gift cards in the amount of $300. That won't even replace medicine for some of the victims.

My mother is one of the lucky ones as she has my sister and I and Ann who is like a daughter also.
I have been to Orange to take care of mom's needs, but she has so many friends that she has already been given clothes and shoes and $175 in cash. Mom got out with her purse, a flashlight, her cell phone and most importantly of all her life.

I found mom a new walker and I was able to shop around and saved $75. on the price. I hope that others who need one will find the discounted price instead of paying full price of $175.

Mom had been telling my sister and I to come and get some of the family photos, but we had chosen not to do that yet. They will have to remain in our memories as they are gone now. Her most personal little treasures are all gone, but her spirits remain high.

The needs are so great and those in need so many. The ones in need this time are our most fragile ones.

Ann, my sister and I are putting together donations of clothing and cash that we will be distributing to the victims. We are working with the manager to assist with whatever we can.

If you want to help just d-mail me and I will give you an address or a paypal account. All of the cash will go to buy medicines, teeth, aids that are not covered by any other means.

There are a few lucky ones like my mom, but the manager has told us that there are 18 with no living relatives and their friends are either too old or they have outlived them also.


Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

charlene, where can I make a donation at for these people?? My neighbor is moving and has been cleaning her closets out.. she gave me a ton of clothes and other things . I was going to have a garage sale but I know she would rather see them go to those in need of them NOW. I checked how far you are from me and its not far at all, about 100 miles Id be happy to deliver them if theres a place collecting for these poor people..
let me know

Conroe, TX(Zone 9a)

Charlene you have dmail.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

I will be coming down 7 to Woodville on Monday. That looks to be right by you. I will be coming around noon. Will you be home?

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

you have Dmail

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Charlene, I am so sorry, Thank God everyone escaped unharmed.

(Becky) Colmesneil, TX(Zone 8b)

Charlene... I'm sorry... my kids are here from TN and I am tealing a moment on here, but I a, so sorry about all the loss, but am so happy that your mom and all the others made it out alive!

Let me see what I can do!!l

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Charlene....will send dmail.

So hard to think of the seniors that have special needs and no family to share their grief and confusion that comes with a tragedy like loosing your home. My Mom is gone now, but had demenitia in her later years and didn't know family sometimes, DH's Mom is blind and having to move from her senior apt that was home for 17 years into a new building.
Money can't help in some situations only our prayers and the hugs of those around them. We can only try to make their lives more comfortable with replacing the material things.

Colleyville, TX(Zone 8a)

So sorry to hear about this. Is there a special fund through Red Cross?

Houston, TX(Zone 9a)

Charlene, make sure someone notifies the Red Cross. They will be able to help with a lot of the stuff these folks need in the way of emergency clothing and supplies. They may also have info on an agency that "recycles" used medical equipment. One of my oldest friends died this past Friday and has a scooter and walker. She was only 49 years old. I will see if the family is willing to donate those items, but suspect the Red Cross might know of an agency that would supply these items that are donated after the original owners either recover from the need or pass on. I'll let you know what I find out.

All the best wishes in your efforts to help these folks. If you know of a charity that's taking donations for them, you might want to post the agency name and info so you're not bombarded with dozens of Dmails asking for the same info. Let me know where to send donations.

Best Wishes

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Red Cross was actually on site the first night the blaze started. They put up some of the people in hotels. They issued checks the first night to some for $50. They have since issued checks to bring the total up to $300.

They are working with the manager to help, but their funds are limited due to the number of disasters that have occurred. Their budgets have been challenged and they are not offering anything else at this time. So far, everything that we have replaced has been on our own expense. So many of the victims didn't even get their wallets or purses and the ones without family have no way to replace needed items.

Locally a church is offering their fellowship hall for victims to sleep their. The manager of the apartments is buying beds with donated funds that will belong to the victims when they are able to leave the church hall.

We went to a bank to set up donations, but they don't do that anymore due to having been sued by some people.

A barbeque is going to be held for fund raising. At this time, myself, Anne, and the manager are collecting money, and clothes and on an individual basis taking care of immediate needs.

The best way to get things done quickly is to do it yourself. So, that is what I am doing. I used to live in Orange and so I am familiar with some of the people that are helping. I am going to spend some time there trying to find dental lab discounts for teeth. So far, I haven't found any way of getting discounts on the medical equipment other than price comparisons.

The donations of cash that I collect will be accounted for by posting to the donors exactly how it was spent and in some cases who it was spent on if possible.

My mother is being taken care of by my sister, myself and Anne. The donations are for those who do not have family help.

I am using my husband's paypal account since he never uses it. It is:
[email protected]

My mailing address is:
Charlene Houseman
18117 fm 831
Buffalo, TX 75831

Since I may be unable to reach a computer, I have posted these for anyone wishing to donate.

I will keep everyone posted as to what help is being given.

The biggest problem is housing and there will be no quick solution for that. It is being worked on and hopefully one at a time the ones who have no where will find places again.

It will take a very long time to get the apartments rebuilt. They have already been declared a total loss. They are government funded and the government works slowly.

Thank you all for your caring and your help.


Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

Oh how tragic. My son's home burned 15 years ago and I still remember the feelings. At least he and his wife were young.

I'm so sorry. As your sweet mom said, no lives were lost.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Thank you LouC for looking at my post and link. My mom is a sweet lady for sure. She is so lucky to have so very many friends. Some of the people in the apartments only friends were each other, so at a time like this, they can't be of much help to each other. My mom had a wide range of friends though and is well liked and loved by a lot of people other than just the apartments.

At church today, I was promised a check for the apartment victims next Sunday and a love offering for my mom. Even here people love her. Well, she is a great cook and wherever she has ever taken a dish, she is remembered LOL.

I think what is going to be the most difficult is getting expensive medical items replaced. I intend to work on it though and I have faith that it will get accomplished.


Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

This is just a thought. When we visit friends near Mt. Pleasant we always go to the thrift shop that is run by Hospice. Extremely clean and nice. There is one in almost every little town. Perhaps they also have things donated by patients who no longer need them. I'm sure it is a network and if you talk to one they can contact others. My prayers are with each of you. You have already had enough stress this year to last a lifetime.


Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Christi, you are right about the stress. One thing for sure, the stress I have had sure makes you want to hold onto your loved ones a bit tighter.

My stress is miner though compared to what these wonderful people are suffering.

I will check into the hospice thrift shops. Thanks for the idea.

I failed to mention the animals that were lost. I know for sure that two were lost. One hid from his owner and one jumped out of it's owners arms and ran back in the building. This has to be adding to the stress levels as those pets are sometimes the only (or at least the closest )friend their owner has.


Desoto, TX(Zone 8a)

When our son's home burned they fireman found the two labs under the bed and moved them before any of us got there. They told us small children and animals will hide thinking that is safe. There are certain places they always look first. Smoke is the culprit.

Like the hurricanes all over again. So sad.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Christi, that must have been really hard for your son. Thank goodness for a considerate fireman trying to make the loss less shocking for them.

Oakwood (Butler,TX), TX(Zone 8b)

I have pups. Were the 2 pets lost dogs?
I know that a place to live & their medsetc. must come first ...
but please let me know sometimes a warm fuzzy puppy can make your day ...

Dallas, TX

Charlene, you have a paypal. jerry

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

Charlene..check your pay pal..

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

Charlene howed it go yesterday???

Beaumont, TX(Zone 8b)


I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom and her friends being displaced from their homes. I made a donation to the Paypal account above.


(Becky) Colmesneil, TX(Zone 8b)

Kathleen.. charlene stopped by my house yesterday after she met you... got lots of clothes, 2 walkers and some costume jewelry. She reminded me of how they love the don't know if she has a puter at her cousins or not

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

I can't begin to describe how happy your blessings are making these wonderful folks. Here is a photo of a lady with her new walker that was bought with the donations.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

I have so far been able to buy 3 blood pressure monitors, 3 glucomonitors along with 3 sets of test strips, two walkers with the brakes for when seated and the carry baskets, an order of some undergarments for one person which needed to be done online due to odd size totaling $155.00, $200 in cash for the Optimist to take the same person shopping since no clothing was donated in her size.

So far from Dave's Garden I have received in checks $150.00 and through Paypal $210.00. Also I have been able to pick up items from two different DG people of needed clothing and items.

I will be posting more photographs and copies of receipts as I can have the time. I am pretty much on the go as Orange is a 3 1/2 hour drive for me.

If anyone has any ladies garments that are size 4 - 5 X tops for ladies or 4x bottoms for ladies they are the items that we are having to buy. These are hard to find and are more expensive than regular items, so if you locate any of these they will be helpful.

Also still needed are a BPAP machine (don't ask me what that is, I only know it is some kind of breathing machine), and electric skooters. These are the pricey items that we are trying to find used and no longer needed by someone.

I will pick up large items or some items I will pay for shipping if needed.

I cannot tell you what these things are meaning to these people. I saw a lot of tears shed as things were handed out. It made me cry to see what they are going through.


Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

One gentleman lost his persian cat. If there are any breeders out there willing to give him a cat, it would be wonderful.

His cat was named Garfield. He tearfully described trying to get Garfield out. He said the cat just went wild when he opened the door and the hall was filled with people screaming and crying and the smoke and the screaming alarm. The cat hid under the bed. He flipped the bed on it's side, then the cat ran under the sofa, he moved the sofa out and the cat went under the recliner and crawled up inside the springs. He had to leave because by then the smoke was filling his apartment. He said if he could only have one thing he would want Garfield.

I asked him if he wanted another cat. He said he wished he could have one like Garfield. It will be a while before he has a place, so if there is a breeder out there who could give him a kitten in a few months it would be a blessing for him.


Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

If you sent money by paypal, please d-mail me with your DG name and your mailing address as the Optimist and myself want to keep a list of the donations. The Optimist Village manager of course will be sending thank yous and they want to post a list in the newspaper also.

Jerry, thanks for your donation. I need to hear from you specifically as I don't know your DG name and I really want you to know how much I appreciate your donation.


Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

I made a mistake on the number of glucometers and BP monitors and strips. I bought three for specific individuals and also bought one of each to have at the church where there are several of the victims being housed.

We don't need anymore of the older type walkers. We could still use some with the seats though as many of the seniors use this type now so they can sit when they become tired.

I have received a scooter chair that has been donated but it needs a $200.00 battery as it has been sitting up for 5 years now. More scooter chairs are needed. These things are very high dollar, but many people who pass away or go into nursing homes have had them and no longer need them. If you know of any of these please let me know. I will get it to Orange either by picking it up or paying for shipping.

Here is a photo of the A unit so you can see what the apartments in C unit were like before the fire.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks to all who have donated.

If you have any questions about your donation please d-mail me. If you have sent me your mailing address, you will be receiving a thank you and a charitable donation certificate from the Optimist Village Apartments.

Anyone mailing a check can make it payable to Noon Optimist Club with the note added that it is for the fire victims, you can make it out to me (whichever you prefer). They sponsor the apartment complex and are doing a super job with getting help for the victims.

The apartment complex has four ladies working constantly on the phone and with people to get needed items. It was my pleasure to be there in person and I was given a list of urgent needs and was able to fill all items on the list. So far all of the donated monies have been spent and were all on urgently needed items. As soon as I feel a little better, I will scan the receipts and post a copy.

Unfortunately I brought home a virus with me when I returned this last trip. It seems to have gotten most everyone down in the Orange area that were in close contact due to the fire. My mom says the doctors offices are full of patients all with what seems to be a severe stomach virus and it is not just a 24 hour deal. I have of course shared it with my DH and DD. I have been sick since Thursday and still feel pretty awful.

Fort Worth, TX(Zone 8a)

Take care of yourself first Charlene! It is not going to do any good if you end up in the hospital.

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks Sheila, I am actually eating some applesauce now and I do believe that I am going to live. DH is up and about and DD is still down with the bug. It sure has been a boost to my diet! LOL I had reached a plateau and that has been broken. Not the way I'd care to lose it though!

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

dmailing you.

By the way, we looked on craigslist for an oxygen machine a few months ago on craigslist in our area, and found lots of good deals. Maybe craigslist in your aread for some of the replacements?

(Taylor) Plano, TX(Zone 8a)

By the way, what about the insurance?? Have they done the estimates, and will they be covering any of their belongings?

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

The insurance is covering the building, but not the belongings. Myself and four people in the Optimist Village office are searching for all of the items that the residents are requesting help with. We are all looking for the best deals on the items new or used. I have been lucky enough that a lady selling some items on Craig's list just donated the items to us.

The lions club has donated glasses. The local dentists have gotten together and are making the molds for teeth and local labs are furnishing the teeth. Salvation Army and Red Cross have made various donations of cash and food and clothes. The Optimist Club is taking cash donations and buying items that are needed. I am checking with the team at the Optimist Village Apartments and they are giving me lists of items to purchase. There are many things that are high dollar that are needed such as lift chairs, scooters and other types of medical equipment. Medicare is not replacing these items unless they have reached a certain age. In most cases the age has not been reached, so the expensive items are the difficult thing on the lists at this time.

Thank you all for your help,
Charlene Houseman

Rowlett, TX(Zone 8a)

Charlene, another resource might be the website: They have chapters in many cities in Texas, and would be a good way to get the word out to people who may have items that you're looking for.


Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)

Thanks Carla, I'll check on that for sure.

Wells, TX(Zone 8b)

hows things going?? I have a friend whos church group you might be interested in helping Her name is Ruby and shell be contacting you..Im giving her your number so dont be surpised when you get a call

Buffalo, TX(Zone 8b)


Thank you so much for all you have already done. I must say at this point, the most urgent needs are mostly taken care of. However, there are many more things needed. The residents on the first and part of the second floor were able to get a few things out with the inspectors locating whatever they would tell them to look for. Most things were ruined with smoke or water, but there were a few things that were salvaged. The third floor was a total loss and not safe enough for anyone to attempt to remove anything. You could see where my mom's apartment had been, but it was just a vacant space, so I know nothing was left in there.

One thing I had thought about was asking for bibles to be donated. Most of the residents used large print bibles and most were probably old school and used the KJV. I know my mom's bible had the reference column in the middle and a concordance. It seems as we age, we do a lot more reading of the bible. I had thought about asking some churches to take on the task of replacing bibles, so this might be a great project for your friend if they are interested. If maybe I could get several churches to take this project on, I could ask each resident what kind of bible they had and this way they could get back a similar or even the same kind of bible. I know that good bibles are expensive and I think that since the people in the senior age brackets really used their bibles actively, it would be nice to replicate them. If a church group only bought one bible it would be possible to get nice bibles for the residents again.

If anyone thinks their church might be interested in this, please contact me and we will get the ball rolling trying to get one resident's bible replaced at the time.

I can't thank everyone enough for all that is being done. So far I have been blessed enough to see some pretty happy faces when taking your donations to these people. May God bless you all also.

The two biggest things that I figured would be difficult to replace were a scooter and a hover-round. No problem getting them at all. Two people in my church each had one of these items that were not being used anymore. One was from a lady whose mom had passed away and the other was from a MS patient who had another motorized chair that served her needs better and no longer used the hover-round. I have also received enough donations and promises of donations to be able to purchase batteries for the two items.

The residents of the apartments will never be the same after this experience and I am sure the toll that it has taken on them may even cause enough stress that it may shorten their lives. They have had the opportunity though to know that the world is full of good people and kind, generous and caring people. I know that my mom has really been impressed by the strangers that don't even know her and the other residents that have reached out to help.

Many of the residents are still sleeping on sofas in someone else's home, but they have their medicines and their most important equipment and clothes and food. It will take about a year before the apartments are re-built.

My mom has decided to move to Houston so she can be close to my sister and closer to me. She will turn 82 soon and she knows that she may eventually need to live with one of us anyway. She will likely live with sis, since I live out in the country and she prefers being in town. This move with make the later transition a bit easier on her. She will be going to church with sis and spending a lot of time in activities with sis's church that are for the seniors. She will move to an apartment close to sis for now as soon as she can find one that is affordable and close.

Thanks for all of you who have continued to care about these victims. Thanks for the prayers and donations and your love.


Post a Reply to this Thread

You must log in and subscribe to Dave's Garden to post in this thread.