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The community steps up to help displaced family

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 10:27 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Nine families were displaced after the shootout at Rowan Apartments due to the water damage it caused.

WTAP spoke to one of those families who say help from the community has been a ‘God-send.’

When Tara Shaffer and her family were escorted out of the building by SWAT, she didn’t realize they wouldn’t be able to go back.

When Shaffer found out they were displaced, her first thought was...

“…, my kids. If it was just me, I could just couch-surf. You know, that’s pretty easy but what about my kids?” she said.

Since then, ‘home’ has been a loose term. While Shaffer says the apartment complex covered a night at a hotel, it was the kindness of strangers that carried her through.

“If it wasn’t for that, I honestly don’t know where we’d be.”

Strangers paid to extend her stay at the hotel. Then, Shaffer was connected with temporary emergency housing at Sanctuary House - a service provided by Beechwood Presbyterian Church.

Shaffer remembered, “When we got here, my youngest son, who’s autistic, he - we always let him pick first because, to him, that’s just exciting so he ran in here and and he just went - picked his room and he jumped on the bed and that was it. He said ‘this is my bed!’”

On top of that, food hasn’t been much of a worry either.

Shaffer said, “..., when we got here last Sunday, they brought more food - a truck and a van-load of food so The ARC in Belpre has been tremendous.”

While their stay at Sanctuary House is only temporary, Shaffer has been able to find a new home she hopes to move into soon.

Still, even with warm open doors awaiting, Shaffer isn’t likely to forget the community’s help.

She said, “Well I would like to say thank you to all of you. You guys have been a God-send. And, if it wasn’t for you, I don’t know where me and my kids would be right now.”

Not all displaced families have been as lucky. One tenant, who chose to remain anonymous, says he has paid over $1,000 to house his family. While right now he’s being housed for free, the situation is temporary and the future is unknown. He says he’s reached out to multiple places for help but, either hasn’t qualified for housing or it just hasn’t worked out.

WTAP has reached out to Rowan Apartments and Fairfield Homes for an update. A media contact says there is still not a timeline for repairs to share.

For more context on the shootout that led to the situation, click here.

WTAP spoke to another family displaced from the shootout. For their story, click here.

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