Waukesha condo residents get ten minutes to enter homes, gather essentials as Red Cross offers shelter

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dozens of people living at the Horizon West condo complex and their families were given the opportunity to enter their homes Saturday morning, Dec. 4, to gather essential items left behind when the building was evacuated on Thursday, Dec. 2, due to officials deeming the structure uninhabitable.

"It's all unknown right now," explained Bob Lange, son of a resident who lived in the condo. "Give her comfort. Let her know she's got a place to stay."

While some are being put up in hotels or staying with family or friends, others at the condo were left with nowhere to go and are seeking refuge at the American Red Cross' temporary shelter that is now set up at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield. That includes Beth and Scott Hastreiter, who called the Horizon West home for 14 years.

"Good gravy, we are very grateful," said Beth, referring to the shelter being provided by the church and the Red Cross. "Hallmark doesn't make a card for this. There aren't any words."

The two are familiar with the Elmbrook campus. They teach Sunday school to kids while their parents attend church services, something they don't plan on letting the loss of their home stop them from doing.

"We'll be able to go to church tomorrow and serve with the kids that we teach Sunday school to every weekend," Beth said. "When everything else is gone at least we have God and each other and a chance to do something for somebody else and not have to focus on the pain we're in."

According to Justin Kern, an official with the American Red Cross, the shelter will be set up for the immediate future and open 24/7 to those who lived at the condo that need a place to stay.

Kern anticipates anywhere from 5 to 40 people making use of the shelter, meals and mental health resources that will be provided.

"It is a community that's healing," Kern said. "It's a cold time of the year so if we can be here if our volunteers can be here for these folks during their time of need, that's why they join and that's why they're involved in the Red Cross. We will use that compassion, we will use our skills and our connections in the community to try to get these folks on to recovery as quickly as possible."

For Beth and Scott, that road to recovery involves waiting for their insurance to make a decision on how much will be covered before they can make a decision on more permanent housing.

As for Bob, he's just grateful his mother and the other residents are alive and will be able to spend the holidays with loved ones.

"It's just different because it didn't burn down; it didn't fall down," Bob said. "I'm just glad that we're able to go in and retrieve some things. Nobody got hurt."

At this time, the American Red Cross is asking the community to hold off on physical donations of items such as food or clothes while they continue to assess the situations and the needs of those utilizing its resources.

Monetary donations can be made at https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation.html/


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