Catholic church helps displaced residents after fire destroys their building

(WMAR) - Dozens of families started the new year without a place to call home.  Fire ripped through a condo building in Arnold last Saturday destroying 12 homes.

Twenty-four families were displaced after a fire ripped through an Anne Arundel County condominium building. Twelve of those families lost everything. Now, St. Andrew By The Bay Catholic Church is their beacon of hope. 

"We have nothing.  We lost everything in the fire," Pamela Robinson, told ABC2.

"It was bad I couldn't believe it. I lived there for 29 years and it's gone," said Susan Viola.

Viola and Robinson both lived in the same building--now both are trying to rebuild after a fire took it all.

Viola said, "I just ran, grabbed my purse, grabbed my coat and ran out.  I turned around and looked up and flames were shooting out of the roof as I ran out the front door."

"When I got to the door the black smoke just hit us in the face," said Robinson.

Robinson said she tried to figure out how to get out. That's when her teenaged son, stepped in.

"He tied some sheets together and we were able to get down that way."

A harrowing experience that's left these women with nothing except their spirit.

"We're lucky.  It's just stuff, we got out okay, nobody's burned, nobody's dead," said Viola.

St. Andrews started a collection with everything a family could need.

"St. Francis of Assisi had a great line, it is in giving that we receive and it think many of us would say we get much more than we give by just being able to reach out," said Father Jeffrey Dawses, pastor of the church.

The families said they're grateful now for any small kindnesses, none of which they asked for.

"It's a blessing, it's a blessing," Robinson said.

St. Andrew's is collecting donations through January 12th.

Click here for information on how to donate. 

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