August 18, 2016
By Michael A. Durso and Jack R. Smith
As you all are likely aware, our community experienced a terrible tragedy last week when a horrific fire and explosion led to a building collapse at the Flower Branch Apartments on Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring. More than 100 people have been affected, including many Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) families. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who have been affected by this tragedy.
In the wake of these events, a massive County response is underway and many nonprofit organizations are working with the Red Cross and the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to provide shelter, food, clothing and other assistance to the victims.
The County has posted the most up-to-date information online on the various ways County residents can help the victims of the explosion. According to County officials, what is most needed at this time are financial contributions. All contributions will go directly to the families. You can make a donation online on the Montgomery Housing Partnership’s website http://mhpartners.org/ or drop off cash donations at Casa de Maryland, 734 University Blvd. E. in Silver Spring.
To provide support to the families of the 19 students from New Hampshire Estates and Oak View elementary schools who were directly affected by the tragedy, you can make a donation to the New Hampshire Estates/Oak View PTA or purchase school supplies for the students. Instructions on how to make an online donation and where to drop off school supplies can be found on this website.
We would like to give special recognition to the many MCPS staff, parents, students and community members who have donated and volunteered their time to serve these families. We have been told that MCPS volunteers have spent hours at the shelter reading books, playing games, and doing arts and crafts with students. Their response has been tremendous and we want to thank them for all that they have done and continue to do.
We are committed to partnering with the County to provide the support and resources that these MCPS families will need in the weeks and months to come.