More than 100 city workers, including inspectors, police and fire personnel, and dozens more volunteers responded to the Yale Park Apartments on Thursday, inspecting apartments, comforting displaced families and preparing temporary shelters at community centers.
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert was briefed by housing inspectors on-site. Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan was on the scene as school staff prepared to dismiss 175 OPS students to the vacated complex. Assistant Fire Chief Kathy Bossman said that a rescue unit was doing air monitoring and that the department had a medic unit standing by.
Social service agencies, including the Salvation Army, Heartland Family Service and advocacy groups that work with refugees, passed out water, set up cots and prepared to feed hundreds of people. Others came to help translate.
An undertaking of this size and scope is “probably one of its kind in Omaha,” said Scott Lane, the city’s chief housing inspector. “Typically when we do this, it’s a family or maybe one or two apartments in a complex, not a full-scale, entire complex.”
A spokeswoman for Lutheran Family Services, one of three federal resettlement agencies in Nebraska, said 22 of its refugee clients were living at the complex.
“LFS is currently providing language and employment services to our clients affected by this matter,” said spokeswoman Kathy O’Hara Brehm. “It is our clients who choose where they would like to live. This is an unfortunate incident, and our main priority is the safety and well-being of our clients and other Burmese refugees affected by this transition.”
People also asked how they could help the apartment residents, most of whom are refugees from Myanmar who were told they couldn’t bring furniture to the community centers where they were staying.
Ways to help:
» The Salvation Army will accept monetary donations. Checks can be designated to “The Salvation Army Yale Park Residents Relief Fund.” They can be mailed to the Salvation Army, 10755 Burt St. Omaha, NE 68114, attention: disaster services, or brought directly to the office. Online donations can be made at salarmyomaha.org
» Donate to Heartland Family Service at heartlandfamilyservice.org. Businesses that want to donate can call 402-553-3000.
» Donations can be left at Mission Church at 3401 Patrick Ave., or call Amy at 402-909-5675.
» Donations can be left at Karen Christian Revival Church at 5308 Hartman Ave., or call the office at 402-453-0770.