The families and business owners displaced by the fire Wednesday night that destroyed the corner building on Mission and 22nd Street began the agonizing process Friday of picking up the pieces of their lives.
Six of the families who lost their homes moved from hotels into the community room at the Salvation Army building at 1156 Valencia Street.
Angie Carcano, a captain who is in charge of the effort there, said the families – including 24 adults and six children – will remain there for a week while the city attempts to find them more permanent housing. The city decided to move them to Valencia Street because many work or go to school in the Mission, she said. The remaining 30 residents are staying with friends and family.
Bunks will be set up on the chapel side of the building and there is a nursery for younger children, but there are no showers onsite. Carcano said they are arranging to make showers available at another facility.
All day Friday, families sat around tables in the large community room talking about the fire and what they would do next. A feeling of despondency filled the bright, clean room. Children clung to parents and families huddled together.
Hector Quinteros, who lived with his wife and three children, ages 3, 8 and 12, in Apartment 306, a studio, said that his youngsters were crying at the hotel; although the Salvation Army community room might seem worse, at least they would be less isolated.. While they could use a few things for the children, he said, he does not want to accumulate much as there is nowhere to store it. “What we need is a roof over our head,” he said.
Sandra Corzo, who lived in Apartment 302 with her two daughters, ages 18 and 23, agreed. “We have pants and shoes, we need a secure roof,” she said.
Still, others mentioned some basic items they could use. We have compiled a list here.
Earlier in the day, the city met with representatives from the 27 businesses that were located on the building’s ground and second floors. City officials began the process of assessing each business’s needs, but also delivered bad news: access to second floor offices, originally scheduled for this morning, would be delayed. They said that the offices contained hazardous material – lead and asbestos – and needed to be evaluated before anyone was allowed up.
“I have a lot of records up there,” said Jamie Rendero, an accountant who prepares clients’ income tax returns. “I’m losing money.” Rendero said he is already looking for space, but will probably have to move further south because of high rents in the Mission.
Nenita Sanidad, who for 25 years ran a dental clinic on the second floor, said that she was likely to retire. Finding a new office would be difficult, she said.
Bill McLeod, a professional photographer, said his second floor office had been used primarily as an archive and contained 25 years’ worth of photos. He was among the lucky ones to get upstairs on Thursday morning, but said time allotted was far too short. “There’s got to be a way to be there for more than 15 minutes,” he said.
City officials will meet with all of the affected families at 1156 Valencia Street Saturday at 11 a.m.