Businesses, faith groups, nonprofit organizations and residents in Calvert County, Maryland, are offering support to residents of a Chesapeake Beach community that’s coping with the loss of two people in a fatal fire.
Two people died and four townhouses were reduced to ruble with many others damaged in the Wednesday afternoon fire at Courtyards at Fishing Creek, a community next to the town’s historic Rod and Reel Restaurant. Neighbors have said the victims were a woman and her 13-year-old granddaughter.
Gestures large and small rolled in to support the people displaced by the fire.
Travis Ruckman, a manager of the local McDonald’s, stopped by the complex Thursday to tell those standing on the sidewalks they could come in for a free meal while he was on duty.
“I just want to give my prayers out to everyone here living in Fishing Creek, especially the two that passed away,” Ruckman said.
The message board sign for the local Papa John’s and dry cleaners reads “Accepting donations.”
“We’ve been sending them pizzas to help out,” said Holly Evans from behind the counter. “Anything [donated] that can help, if it’s in small quantities we can get it down to them to have it dropped off.”
Evans said Papa John’s stores area-wide are accepting donations to take to the fire victims.
“I could see the flames while I was outside my shop,” said Lisa Rowell, of Chesapeake Beach Dry Cleaners. “I’m feeling sad for the loss.”
Deacon Ed Baker of Saint Anthony of Padua Catholic Church went to Fishing Creek to pray with residents, offer spiritual support and tell residents the church was open to them.
“They’re welcome to come tell us how we can help them. I know the town’s trying to help and the [CVS] is trying to help, and the Red Cross and I’m sure others,” Baker said. “Everyone is pulling together to try to help these people with clothes, food, housing and help — because they’ve been traumatized.”
Many fire victims said they drew strength from each other.
“We’re a community,” Nakida Claggett said. Another person who didn’t want to be identified chimed in: “We’re a family back here.”
Claggett’s house was not damaged, but she said her son goes to middle school with two residents whose homes were destroyed.
“Mentally, it’s draining,” Claggett said. “Everyone is affected by yesterday’s events.”
Shawn Greenfield, 30, has a 3-year-old son and is expecting the birth of his second child July 25. He isn’t sure when or whether he’ll be able to retrieve items from his damaged house because it might not be structurally stable.
“I just pray for everyone back here. I hope everyone can pull together,” Greenfield said. “Everyone back here is a community where everyone back here sticks together — and that’s what we’re doing now.”
Arvont’e Gorman, 24, was also displaced. Gorman said friends and family have been reaching out offering support.
“I appreciate all that, everybody’s who’s helping me out,” Gorman said. “I’m going to do my best to help the community out too.”
United Way of Calvert County created a donation page for those looking to help the residents affected by the fire.
The Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee will be accepting household items and other non-monetary donations at the Northeast Community Center once housing is secured for those displaced by the fire.
Those who wish to donate by check are asked to write “Chesapeake Beach Fire Relief Fund” in the memo line and mail to P.O. Box 560, 530 Main St., Prince Frederick, Md. 20678.
WTOP’s Kristi King reported from Chesapeake Beach, Md.