Standing out on the street Sept. 1, Nisrine Rahhou took stock of her children and thanked God that everyone was safe.
Then, looking up at her home that was on fire, she realized that though everyone was safe, they had nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Her husband, Farid Karradi, had been at work and was on the way home – in disbelief that a fire had taken the three-family home they lived in, not to mention it had taken the lives of two of their neighbors on the second floor.
“When you go to sleep and wake up homeless it’s very hard,” said Rahhou. “You have no clothes, no ID, and everything you have is gone. You find yourself waking up and running for your life and then you end up in your pajamas standing in the street. Then it sets in that you’ve lost everything.”
While two women lost their lives in the fire on Sept. 1, two other families were left homeless as the triple-decker was deemed a total loss, and Fire Chief Tony Carli said it would be demolished soon.
That’s where the City has stepped in to make sure Rahhou and Karradi, as well as Nina Ramirez and her family, were able to secure housing as quickly as possible to minimize the disruption to the children and family.
“Everything was done for us very, very quick,” said Karradi. “The response was great. After everything happened, we had nothing. I appreciate so much how quickly they responded because something had to be done immediately. That’s exactly what happened.”
Karradi and his family have secured housing this week, and Ramirez and her daughter, are in the process of securing housing – both at Everett Housing Authority properties.
“The biggest priority for me was getting you housing,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “We have a set policy now that when a fire like this happens, the Fire Department knows to contact us so we can work on finding housing…It’s something we always hoped to do and we followed through here…Going forward, anything that happens like this, we have put something in place and families can get housing immediately so they aren’t going from hotel to hotel.”
In addition to the housing, several donations have been awarded too.
The Everett Fire Union, spearheaded by Lt. Scott Dalrymple and Lt. Will Hurley in Fire Prevention, presented each family with $700 after raising money during Village Fest last weekend. There was also a donation from Cataldo Ambulance and several anonymous donations as well.
In particular, Jerry Navarro at Human Services spearheaded the campaign to help the families, and with a big assist from the Everett Housing Authority and the Webster School.
Additionally, the Everett Fire Victims’ Fund also kicked in as it has done for the past 12 years. Mayor DeMaria established Fund when he was just getting ready to take office after winning his first election. The idea came in the wake of a petroleum truck rollover that caused a horrific fire to several homes abutting Sweetser Circle.
“We have the Red Cross, but after that incident I realized that after a while, people go back to their lives and the victims are still left to deal with it,” he said. “In that incident, the City also stepped back and so we established this fund to make sure the City steps up and helps every victim of a fire in Everett.”
As far as the investigation goes, Fire Chief Tony Carli said the home is a total loss, and the conditions are too dangerous to investigate the causes. They have ruled out arson, but are not going to investigate any further. The home will be demolished, but Carli said the spirit of the community to help could not be taken down.
“We worked with the families to make sure they had everything they needed,” he said. “Everett is great at stepping up in times of need. The City has the Fire Victims Fund and so many in City government have also stepped up to help. In this case, we have two people who lost their lives, and two families that find themselves with nothing. The outpouring of support from the community to help has been nothing short of amazing.”
Karradi said they couldn’t be more grateful for having a new home so quickly.
“It’s simply a miracle Nisrine survived,” Karradi said, noting he has two boys, ages 8 and 6. “With this new home, we have gotten their smiles back. With the new home, they don’t have to keep going back to what happened. They can move forward.”
Said Mayor DeMaria, “I would hope that someone would help me in the same way if I were in your situation.”