A Week Later, Shelter Still Home for Mountain View Fire Victims

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

It’s been about a week since fire ripped through Glynwood Manor, a 38-unit apartment complex in the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage. Investigators are still trying to figure out the cause. Meantime, 32 people are still living at a Red Cross Shelter at the Fairview Recreation Center.

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Even though Faamatua Mesik and her family lost nearly all their belongings in the Glynwood Manor apartment complex fire in the Mountain View neighborhood of Anchorage last week, Mesik says she has a lot to be thankful for.

She says they’re sleeping on Cots, or on the floor. They have a place to bathe and they’re fed. The kids are going to school every day.

She rummages through a Walmart plastic bag full of donated clothes she’s carrying around the shelter, now her only real belongings.

“They gave us some dresses, pants, shirts, also some socks for the kids, some sock for the kids, some ladies clothes, you know,” she said.

Mesik’s staying at the Red Cross Shelter along with nine of her family members who were sharing a two bedroom apartment. She moved to Anchorage in May from Hawaii with her three kids, 16, 11 and 8. Her husband joined them at the beginning of September.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The family is originally from Samoa and moved to Alaska for opportunity. They were staying with Mesik’s sister, brother-in-law and their three kids while her husband looked for work.

Mesik explains that she and her husband are trying to find a new place to live, but they’re overwhelmed.

“My schedule is to go, try to get a newspaper, look for a place wherever, then we can go there and check it out, but the problem is I don’t have that much money for first, last and a security deposit,” Mesik said. “Because we just moved here, we don’t have that much money.”

Other shelter residents are having an easier time getting back on their feet.

Jay Phillips had lived at the Glynwood Manner complex for more than 20 years. Now he’s waiting to move into a new apartment. Phillips went back to his apartment this week to see if he could salvage anything but crews told him his apartment was so wrecked that he wasn’t allowed back in.

“I was allowed to stand about at least four feet away from the front door and take a look at the damage, of course it’s pretty devastating,” Phillips said.

As a single person, Phillips says he found the place pretty easily through Neighborworks, a non-profit that helps people find affordable housing. He located a two bedroom apartment on Government Hill for about the same price as his old one.

“I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told it’s pretty nice. They got carpet layers putting carpet in. That’s what they told me. (Daysha: So when do you think you can move in?) Either late this afternoon or tomorrow morning, hopefully pretty soon,” Phillips said.

Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA - Anchorage
Photo by Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

But for Faamatua Mesik, the wait to move into a new place is likely to be much longer. A Red Cross worker told Mesik she could apply for aid of up to $500 to help her get into a new place. But with the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment around $1,200, plus a deposit, Mesik is worried. Even if they find a place, she’s not sure how they’ll pay for it.

“I’m trying to think who to ask if they can help us with that; for first month and the security deposit if we find a place,” Mesik said. “So I don’t know where to go.”

Red Cross officials say they plan to keep the shelter open through Friday, but just for sleeping and breakfast, in hope that those displaced by the fire will have new homes by week’s end.

The Mountain View Boys and Girls Club is taking donations of new and gently used items intended for residents of the Glynwood Manor fire between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.