Newcomers Displaced Again by Columbus Fire

August 29, 2012

Losing a home to fire is difficult and upsetting for anyone. But for the refugee families in Columbus, Ohio, who lost their apartments and most of their belongings to a blaze on August 21, the impact is especially devastating.

The complex in northeast Columbus housed a number of refugee clients of Episcopal Migration Ministries’ (EMM) local affiliate partners at Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS). The wide-scale fire left 70 people homeless and in need of shelter from the Red Cross.

For the refugee community in the complex, the incident compounds the trauma of being previously displaced by persecution, and for a number of families from Bhutan, it brought back nightmarish memories of a fire that destroyed 500 homes in their refugee camp last year.

CRIS is working with the displaced families as they assess the damage from the fire and seek to establish new residences. EMM has provided assistance with food, but the critical challenge going forward will be replacing the important items destroyed in the fire.

CRIS is asking donors for gift cards to major stores that can be used to replace furnishings, household items and meet other needs over time, as a crush of donated goods could overwhelm the agency’s storage capacity and may not meet specific needs.

They also need volunteers who can spend time with families who have been displaced, families who are traumatized once again.

To offer assistance, please contact Angela Plummer at