Almost a month after flames gutted their Anacapa Hall dorm room, fund-raising efforts and sympathy have helped ease the disruption for freshmen Natasja Swartz and Alison Woods.
UCSB will let Swartz and Woods move back to their room this Friday when repairs of smoke and water damage are scheduled to be completed. The girls have occupied a temporary room in a different wing of Anacapa since Jan. 15, when a fire of yet undetermined electrical origin destroyed many of their belongings and rendered their room unlivable.
Swartz said that resident assistants from Anacapa Hall, Santa Cruz Hall and San Nicolas Hall organized “fire relief fund” collection jars to gather donations from other students to benefit her and her roommate.
“The jars have raised around $200 to help us replace our things,” Woods said. “It was really cool to see how everyone helped us out. Within hours, people from our hall and other halls donated sheets, toiletries and blankets; everything we needed to get through that first night.”
“I probably had over 200 pictures on my wall that burned or melted, and eight pairs of jeans that were burned,” Swartz said, “but even though both of our computer towers were drenched in water and surrounded by flames, they still work. I had to wear pajamas for the next two days because I didn’t have any pants.”
Swartz and Woods received donated computer monitors and keyboards so they could still complete their homework. Their original computer keyboards and monitors were warped by the fire.
“The fire didn’t really interfere too badly with school, but it was hard to catch up on reading and I did miss some classes and a midterm that I had the next day,” Swartz said. “We won’t be back to normal until we move in into our old room – it was like our home.”
“Everything happened only two weeks before midterms, but my professors gave me extensions on the papers I had due,” Woods said. “It’s hard to say we’re back to normal because it’s different living with a whole new group of people away from our friends.”
Friends of the girls from home sent them money and the Gaucho Christian Fellowship offered to raise funds, Swartz said.
Woods said that residents from Santa Cruz Hall went shopping for the displaced girls and put together large gift bags for them. The residents and RAs in Santa Cruz Hall also made them big posters that said “SC is here for you” and “Our hearts go out to you,” which the residents signed.
“Natasja and I hung the posters in our temporary room since we didn’t have anything to cover the walls,” Woods said.
Despite the difficulties of the ordeal the two are thankful for all the help people have given them since the fire.
“We really want to thank everyone who helped us for their generous support and donations of time and money,” Woods said. “Natasja and I wanted to especially thank the maintenance people who worked on our room, our Resident Director Rolando Flores and Resident Assistant Sarah Niss, the firefighters, and our friend Jennie Koppel, who helped us, with a lot of other people, to wash the smoke smell out of our clothes.”