Priests from the Church of St. Mary sat with residents as the American Red Cross took their information Tuesday night and set them up with hotel rooms.
Restaurants donated food to feed those who had lost their homes and businesses. More than $5,000 had been donated through a GoFundMe page, and Wappinger Town Supervisor Richard Thurston estimates about $1,000 more was given directly at Town Hall.
The fire that destroyed the building at 10 Market St. Tuesday was still not entirely out Wednesday morning. Hot spots rekindling have kept firefighters working at the site, and the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
But the Wappingers Falls community has already rallied to help the residents and business owners impacted by the blaze.
At least 28 residents and four businesses were displaced by the fire, though no one was injured. Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander said about 70% of the residents are part of the Latino community.
"Our Latino community came and stood by waiting for a need to be shown to them so that they could give of themselves," Alexander said. "Many offered encouragement and prayers which are still needed."
Wappingers Falls Fire Chief Adam Van Tassel was at the Market Street scene Wednesday morning. Alexander noted the department worked overnight, handling "a couple flare ups."
Central Hudson Gas & Electric was on the scene around noon Wednesday working on power lines. A Market Street remained closed to regular traffic.
"I haven't been to sleep yet," Van Tassel said. "We are working non-stop. We are here for a small rekindle. We put some water on it. The building is going to steam. It's still hot in there but we are doing what we can do."
He said the cause is unknown and the Dutchess County Fire Investigation Division is handling the inquiry. However, he said it "started on the outside of the building." Thurston noted fire inspectors between the town and village are working together.
One firefighter was transported to Vassar Brothers Medical Center Tuesday with smoke inhalation but Van Tassel said they were OK.
While Alexander couldn't give an update, he said "there will be one soon, I hope. We have the village engineers out there looking at the building, to assess its stability."
Mario's Sandwich Shop and TJ's Barbershop were among the first-floor businesses that were destroyed in the blaze. The building contained 10 apartment units.
While the Red Cross announced it had helped 28 individuals — 26 adults and two children — Community Group Wappingers Rises reported 29 victims were involved — nine women and 20 men, including children as young as 1 year old.
The group created a document that communicates what necessities the victims need. Examples include shoes, clothing, toiletries, gift cards, bedding, towels and more. The group said residents can volunteer to satisfy individual victims' needs by messaging @wappingersrises on Facebook.
Thurston said the names of residents will not be listed as "immigration authorities are always looking at those.
"I think the overwhelming majority of the residents (are Latino)," Thurston said. "It's the same situation that occurred two years ago in the village in the other fire. Those were largely all Latino, maybe some Black American as well."
Thurston set up the GoFundMe page, which had 91 donors as of noon Wednesday. Donations to Town Hall included gift cards, he said.
Thurston said he was told St. Mary's is also assisting with relief. Meanwhile, restaurants and individuals have donated food. Cafe Con Leche and AJ's Cafe were among the donors; someone also left Wagon Wheel Pizza with a blank check Tuesday to cover the cost of pizza for first responders.
Cafe Con Leche owner Phil Cordero said displaced residents are welcome to visit his restaurant for free meals for the next week or simply to "hangout."
Raffles have been a popular way that restaurants are trying to drum up support.
County Fare is hosting a 25/75 raffle, with the 75% going to the families, and Mamma Musetti’s with a 50/50 raffle; both will be open until the St. Patrick's Parade on March 7. AJ's is hosting a 50/50 raffle and pulling the winner on March 8, according to owner Angela Joy in a Facebook post. Musetti's also announced it will accept $20 gift cards to be given to the victims, until 6 p.m. Thursday.
The Ruinous Revived, a local store, is accepting donations of cash, gift cards or through credit card during a transaction. Owner Jess Howe said it is important for her to join the community in accepting donations.
"I've poured my heart into the community through my business," Howe said. "I know some of the families that lived in the building. My heart was shattered yesterday. A lot of people's' livelihoods were destroyed yesterday along with the families who lost everything."