EAST HARLEM — A new fund allocating $250,000 to help the victims of the East Harlem gas explosion last week will be set up by the city, the mayor and first lady announced Sunday at a memorial service for two of the victims.
Speaking at Bethel Gospel Assembly, a church just blocks from the explosion were two women killed in the explosion and collapse attended church, Chirlaine McCray said the funds would be redirected from the Mayor's Fund To Advance New York and help the families displaced by the explosion last Wednesday that killed 8, injured dozens, and leveled two buildings.
"Tragedy presents so many unanswered questions and so much anxiety for the future," said McCray. "But one thing New Yorkers can count on in times of crisis are other New Yorkers."
Carmen Tanco, 67, and Griselde Camacho, 44, who were both killed in Wednesday's tragedy, had been congregants of the East 120th Street church.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, McCray and other local officials gathered at the church Sunday morning to make the announcement.
Dozens of parishoners filled the pews to mourn of the loss of the residents who had died in the horrific explosion. The newly allocated funds are just one of the many ways New Yorkers have been volunteering and raising money to assist those affected by the incident.
The mayor did not have specific details on how the disbursement of funds would work, but said his office is coordinating with a number of organizations such as the Red Cross, Union Settlement, Safe Horizon and other groups who have already been involved in relief efforts by assisting the displaced tenants and finding shelters, hotels, and other temporary housing facilities.
The fund will immediately go into the relief efforts, with preference being given to affected individuals who do not have other family members or resources to rely on for support.
The funds were raised through various organizations included Con Ed, and the Real Estate Board of New York, McCray said.
De Blasio reaffirmed Sunday that those who had lost their homes in the incident would be provided "with permanent new homes in the same neighborhood," and said that people who lived in nearby buildings that had sustained damage would be allowed to move back in at the earliest possible date.
"We've seen so many New Yorkers come forward to help those in need," said de Blasio. "We feel for those who are still recovering from the injuries they sustained on Wednesday. It is our job to be there for all of them now."
De Blasio also visited congregants of the Spanish Christian Church which had been located inside the building and which lost five parishoners. They gathered for mass at the Church of God of Third Avenue on Sunday, the NY Post reported.
Contributions can be made to the Mayor's Fund, to help the relief efforts, by visiting nyc.gov/fund or by calling 311. Other kinds of donations were being gathered at La Casa Azul Bookstore, at 143 E.103rd St. during normal business hours.