HAVERHILL — Relatives of Haverhill mom Christina Simoes are hoping they can help her rebuild the home she lost in Wednesday’s fire at her apartment complex on Forest Acres Drive.
Simoes made headlines on Wednesday when she jumped from her burning apartment building with her son in her arms, severely inuring her back. Simoes’ cousin, Maribeth Hopkins, found out about the story from Facebook.
“I contacted her right away. I couldn’t believe what was going on,” she said. “(Simoes) is just so overjoyed that her son is okay.”
She and her husband, Air Force Sgt. Brian Hopkins, have been planning to move from their North Carolina home in the coming months. As they brainstormed ways to help Simoes, they realized their furniture could help her furbish a new home.
“We had to choose between storing it and selling it, and then we found out about Christina,” Sgt. Hopkins said. “We really hope we can make this happen for her.
He said he is looking into ways to transport the furniture up the East Coast. Friends and family have also set up a GoFundMe (http://www.gofundme.com/90thtg) page to raise money for Simoes. She has been through one six-hour operation so far, and doctors are unsure of the extent of permanent damage to her spine.
At 36, Maribeth Hopkins said, she is 13 years older than Simoes, but the two were nevertheless close growing up. While they have not been in regular contact, Hopkins said, she is anxious to help.
“My heart is just broken for her and I want to do anything I can,” she said.
The City of Haverhill has also set up a bank account for the residents displaced by the fire. Mayor James Fiorentini announced Thursday that Pentucket Bank Branches at 1 Merrimack St., 395 Lowell Ave. and 120 Lincoln Ave.in Haverhill will accept contributions that will be distributed among the families affected by the three-alarm fire.
The Wash-N-Go laundry at 99 Cedar St. in Haverhill is also offering to wash, dry and fold clothes free of charge for families displaced by the fire.
The Haverhill YMCA, Haverhill public schools and other organizations within the city have also stepped up to offer clothing and services to those in need and to help displaced residents find shelter.
A Facebook page dedicated to helping the residents of the Forest Acres building has been created under the name “Helping Those Affected by the Fire in Haverhill, Mass. Wednesday May 7, 2014.”
As of Friday, the mayor’s office was still looking into temporary housing options for the families displaced.