LTRC wants to maximize donations but residents need money now

Posted at 9:34 PM, Aug 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-26 09:07:54-04

The Long Term Recovery Center is working to maximize donations to West, but some residents need the money now.

The LTRC says they have around $4 million and if they don't use that money wisely, it can be gone quickly. The idea is long-term to make sure residents in West can rebuild.

However, at this point no residents in West have received money from the West, TX Foundation which received donations from all over the world. Karen Bernsen with the LTRC says that's because they're trying to distribute the money smartly so that everyone with unmet needs can be helped.

"We're trying to blast through it as fast as we can but we can't afford to misstep and do anything that would jeopardize meeting those unmet needs," Bernsen said.

One West couple, though, needs the money now. Deirdre and Steve Matus were looking out their window at their home on Reagan Street just before the explosion. When the unthinkable happened, shards of glass were blasted in their faces. After multiple surgeries and weeks in the hospital, Steve Matus is left with only 30 percent vision and Deirdre is fully blind.

"I couldn't believe it, why, we're just in our house, doing our regular routine and in one instance a horrible explosion and it took everything from all of us, our lifestyle," Deirdre said.

The Matus family, along with their grandson Brayden, live together in a house in China Spring. Neither Steve or Deirdre can live their daily lives without help. They have someone come in and help five days a week to buy groceries and help them do things throughout the house. Deirdre's learning to become independent, but she says it's been very hard.

"It's scary to be blind," Deirdre said. "When you're blind, you get up and step, you feel like you're going in a hole or off a cliff but I went through it."

Deirdre has a system at her home. She starts from the end of the couch in the bedroom and uses angles to get to other parts of the house. 12 o'clock is to the bedroom and 10 o'clock is to the kitchen.

All the hospital bills and the hired help have put the Matus family in a big hole. So they went to the Long Term Recovery Center. Deirdre says when they did, they didn't get any help, only a bag of groceries.

Bernsen says she got a call about the Matus family Friday. She says she doesn't know what happened, but she'll work to get them a case worker so that the family can get what they need.

"I'll find out who has that case and let them know that family needs to be handled as quickly as possible," Bernsen said.

Quickly is something Deirdre and Steve Matus need. They've received help from the community but they need as much as they can get.

"Please help, somebody please help the victims of this horrible horrible explosions, that's all we're asking," Deirdre Matus said.

Another issue with the Long Term Recovery Center some residents have brought up is some haven't been treated well at the center. Bernsen says she's working on that to make sure everyone feels like they're being care for when they walk in the door.

Bernsen also says she wants residents to go through the paperwork for FEMA so they can take advantage of all possibilities before going to the LTRC. While it may be frustrating to go through, it can maximize the money in the Foundation.

As for the Matus family, they hope help can come soon. Steve hopes his vision can become better, and Deirdre hopes one of her eyes can be healed. For now, they take trips to hospitals and live their lives the best they can.