“We were pretty much packed the whole night,” said Pastor Keith Davey of New Hope Ministries at 148 Dove St. “At 11:30 [PM] the power went back on, and you could hear the cheers from the block.”
On Friday (Jan. 25), National Grid cut the power to this part of Albany’s Hudson Park neighborhood where New Hope is located, after a fire broke out across the street in a residence and spread to two other buildings.
The fire immediately displaced people from those buildings, as well as those in adjacent structures, and ultimately left six people homeless. Davey said that the church became a “staging area” for victims, neighbors, and even firefighters who needed a break from fire fighting efforts that lasted more than two hours. Those in the buildings on fire had to evacuate their homes with almost no warning. Few were prepared for the frigid winter weather.
“One person had no shoes on, and shorts. He did grab his two dogs,” said Davey.
Although the church didn’t have lights or heat, the makeshift rescue center stayed open anyway. “Every need was met,” said Davey. “I was blown away by how our church and neighborhood worked together to meet those needs.” In addition to the soup and goulash served by New Hope, he said, Price Chopper sent over pizzas and Dunkin’ Donuts provided hot coffee. Concerned neighbors and local public-service agencies arrived with dry socks, clothing, and dozens of blankets.
“Someone even brought over a pair of size 14 shoes,” Davey said. “That’s an unusual size. It was a good, quick response.”
Although the investigation is still underway, it was reported that someone had attempted to thaw frozen pipes in the basement of 159 Dove St. with a kerosene heater. That building and its two closest neighboring structures were destroyed and subsequently razed. The residents were left with nothing.
“Since Friday, people have been dropping stuff off at the church,” said Davey. The ministry is working with disaster relief agencies such as the American Red Cross, but is also organizing continued assistance for the victims. “We will open up the church up a couple of nights a week for drop-offs,” said Davey. He suggested that potential donors check the New Hope Ministries, Albany, Facebook page for information including what specific supplies the displaced families need.