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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published November 24 2010

Victims of Galleria fire to get long-term help

Sixty-four residents of Fargo’s Galleria On 42nd apartment complex destroyed by the Oct. 11 fire will receive aid from the United Way’s long-term recovery fund.

A committee met Tuesday to review applications and determine how to distribute the more than $25,560 that was raised, said Thomas Hill, community impact associate for United Way of Cass-Clay.

All residents who applied for assistance will receive funding. The amount varies based on the level of damage to their apartment, how many people lived in the unit, and other circumstances, Hill said.

A primary need for residents was replacement of personal computers and electronic items, Hill said.

Residents also needed bedding, clothing, dishes and toys, he said.

“We cannot bring everybody completely back to whole, but they were able to receive some assistance to bring them back closer to whole,” Hill said.

Those who applied for assistance were from 33 different units. Most did not have renter’s insurance. Seven of the 64 residents are children.

The building had 62 units occupied by about 150 residents.

Applications were distributed to residents at an informational meeting following the fire and were mailed to their forwarding addresses, Hill said.

“Everyone was given a fair opportunity to apply,” he said.

Bonnie Turner, state director for Lutheran Disaster Response of Lutheran Social Service of North Dakota, said most of the residents she’s worked with have relocated to other apartments or twinhomes. A few are still living with friends, Turner said.

Of the residents who have relocated, about 95 percent now have renter’s insurance, she said.

“I think there was a real learning that came unfortunately from a devastating disaster,” Turner said.

The investigation into the cause of the fire hasn’t been completed, said Fire Capt. John Arens.

A decision about what to do with the apartment building hasn’t been made, said Dan Hollwegner, vice president for Investors Management & Marketing, which managed the apartment complex.

The insurance company and the building owners are still negotiating, Hollwegner said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590