OGDENSBURG, NY – The Diocese of Ogdensburg continues to house around 40 individuals displaced by Tuesday’s fire at Riverview Towers at the Wadhams Hall on state Route 37 in Ogdensburg.
Diocesan staff continues to work with American Red Cross, county and city agencies and other service organizations to assist the displaced residents.
Bishop Terry R. LaValley, bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, spent most of the early afternoon Tuesday visiting with and assisting displaced residents. He was joined at the scene of the fire by Father Christopher C. Carrara and Father Shane M. Lynch, chaplains for law enforcement agencies and volunteer fire departments in St. Lawrence County.
As efforts began to find accommodations for the displaced residents, Bishop LaValley offered the use of Wadhams Hall, the diocese’s former seminary college facility on state Route 37. Bishop LaValley, along with Deacon James Crowley and Deacon Anthony Pastizzo from St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Ogdensburg, assisted William Seymour, Wadhams Hall facilities manager, in preparing the building to accommodate the residents and helped ensure residents felt welcomed and settled at the diocesan facility. Father Joseph J. Morgan, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral, and volunteers also opened the Our Lady’s Outreach Ministry, formerly St. Vincent de Paul, to provide emergency clothing to residents who were forced to leave their possessions behind as they evacuated during the fire.
In addition to offering housing to residents, the Diocese of Ogdensburg and Wadhams Hall opted to accept the pets of the displaced individuals, allowing the animals to be reunited with their owners during this time of transition. Currently, the diocese plans to assist the displaced residents for at least a week as other arrangements can be made.
Bishop Terry R. LaValley, bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, said:
“I saw Ogdensburg Fire Department trucks go by as I was preparing for noon Mass. Just before Mass, I received word of the fire at Riverview Towers. We prayed for the residents and the emergency responders during Mass, and I walked to the scene after. I talked with the residents to see how they were doing. Last night, I went to Wadhams Hall to help prepare the rooms for the residents’ arrival, to welcome people and listen to their stories. One gentleman, as he settled into his room, made the connection with the parable of the Good Samaritan. People were down, but they witnessed and felt humanity and goodness in the midst of that suffering.”
Bishop LaValley praised the efforts of involved diocesan and Church volunteers, as well as the response of local emergency responders, government entities and service organizations.
“There were so many people and organizations there helping and wanting to help. While there were injuries, sadness and fear, goodness, service and love were also present in abundance. We look forward to continuing to work with other involved agencies to ensure the displaced residents are as safe, healthy and happy as possible as they wait for their home to be restored. We pray prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude for our emergency responders and human services, and we continue to pray for the injured and provide love and care for the displaced.”