FORT KENT – As the community of Fort Kent begins recovering after the fire that destroyed an historic block of buildings on Main Street, relief organizations are stepping up to administer emergency services to those in need.
At the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fort Kent, clothing, furniture, dinnerware and other necessities have begun to pour in from community members, Deputy Grand Knight and K of C relief effort spearhead Terry Plourde said Monday.
“We have a lot of stuff that families can use,” he said, while overseeing volunteers helping to sort donations downstairs at the hall, which has become a sort of dispensary for clothing, diapers, and other home comforts for the displaced tenants that once resided over Nadeau’s House of Furniture and surrounding businesses.
“There is a lot of food, clothing, washer-dryers, bureaus, recliners – toothbrushes, toothpaste - there’s so much that it doesn’t make sense,” he said. He asks that persons donating furniture call ahead first to see if it is needed.
Plourde added that they do have all sizes of clothing, and that they have called all of the fire victims to go and pick whatever they need. He also said he could not believe the sheer size of the loss the town has endured.
Some of the apartment residents were college students, who had been away visiting parents at home, he said, while others were families with children.
The Knights will maintain the emergency donation center all through the week, and into next week if needed, he said.
Down the road at the Fort Kent town office, meanwhile, the American Red Cross has kept a presence for not only the displaced residents, but also for the firefighters, police officers, emergency personnel, and affected businesses and landlords, said Joyce Knorr, the Aroostook County branch manager for the American Red Cross-Pine Tree Chapter based out of Caribou.
The Red Cross got the call at 3 a.m. Sunday, Knorr said, telling them of the severity and breadth of the Fort Kent fire. They quickly organized and sent a crew of three from Caribou to help, and set up a station at the town office.
“We also provide mental health services. People just need to talk sometimes,” she said.
Knorr added that it also sounded like the people of Fort Kent, “as always, have pulled together.”
The American Red Cross, she noted, operates off donations and raises local funds to help local communities. Knorr also said that Bernadette Berube of Wallagrass is a local contact person that people can reach out for the Red Cross’s assistance. Right now, she said, the organization’s immediate response can help displaced persons replace medications, infant supplies, and medical equipment such as walkers. The Red Cross will be available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Knorr said, at 493-4620, ext.108 during the day, or anytime by pressing ext. 3 for urgent calls.
A fundraiser is also being organized to take place 6-8 p.m. April 11 at the Swamp Buck Restaurant to help those affected by the Fort Kent fire.
Another fundraising event is scheduled to take place this Saturday evening, March 31 at Bee-Jay’s.
To reach the Knights of Columbus, call Philip Boucher at 834-6768 or 631-7414, or Terry Plourde at 231-0124.