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Recovery process begins at Alfred University and in community
10/30/09

Even before the fire was extinguished Thursday, efforts were under way to help Alfred University students who were permanently or temporarily left without housing.

The fire, which broke out a little after 6 a.m. in a wood-frame structure at the corner of South Main and West University streets in the Village of Alfred, destroyed the building that housed West Side Liquors and the Alfred Sports Center, as well as off-campus apartments for seven Alfred University students and two Alfred State College students.

Those students, who lost all their clothing, books, computers, cell phones and other possessions in the fire, will be given rooms on campus at no charge for the rest of the semester, which ends in mid-December, said Kathy Woughter, vice president for Student Affairs.

As many as nine other Alfred University students who live in apartments above an adjoining building, which has the Collegiate Restaurant, Kampus Kave and Hair Care on the first floor, will be out of their apartments for at least a month while clean-up and restoration work are completed.

Those students will also be given University housing at no charge for the rest of the semester if they wish. AVI Fresh, the University’s dining service contractor, provided meals free for affected students.

While tenants of second- and third-floor apartments in the rest of the block, those above 17, an art gallery and supply store: Alfred Hair and Tanning Salon; Alex’s Tavern and Panda Express restaurant, were evacuated Thursday, they were permitted to return to their apartments by evening, after fire and code enforcement officials determined the apartments were safe for occupancy, and utilities were restored.

Rumors circulating Thursday were that two Alfred institutions, The Collegiate, known as The Jet, and Alex’s Tavern, had been destroyed. While The Collegiate sustained heavy smoke and water damage, owner John Ninos says he plans to re-open the diner. Alex’s is located in a building that was permitted to re-open Thursday evening. As of Friday, all businesses in that building appeared to be open.

The University’s emergency response team went into action upon receiving word of the fire. Students who had to leave their apartments with only what they were wearing were taken to Powell Campus Center for clothing, food, counseling and assistance with what they needed to get their lives back on track.

And the response from the community was also instantaneous.

At 9 Thursday morning, an email went out on the Alfred University campus, seeking donated clothing for students displaced by a fire which destroyed a Main Street building today.

Within minutes, the Student Affairs office was inundated with clothing and offers of other assistance for the students. “I was amazed,” said Woughter at the response from faculty, staff, other students and members of the community.

A list of needed goods and items may be obtained by emailing the Student Affairs office at studentaffairs@alfred.edu. There have been many donations of clothing, but some specific items are still needed, said Woughter, suggesting those wishing to donate should check with Student Affairs to see what is on the list.

Monetary donations may be sent to the Student Affairs office, 1 Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802. Checks should be made payable to “Alfred University,” which will make the contributions tax-deductible, but they should have a reference in the memo line that says “fire relief” or “Main Street fire” to identify the purpose of the donation. The funds collected will be provided to students for direct relief to offset the cost of replacing major items such as electronics.

Those who wish to donate through the Allegany County chapter of the American Red Cross may do so by contacting Cherise Haase, environmental health and safety coordinator, who has been designated as the Red Cross’ on-campus representative. Haase may be contacted by cell phone at 315.408.7421 or by e-mail at haasec@alfred.edu