MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - After a massive fire on Christmas morning destroyed a hotel that serves as an overflow shelter for people facing homelessness, a group of Minneapolis families are working to figure out what's next for them.
The fire at the Francis Drake Hotel in downtown Minneapolis displaced a total of 250 people including 100 children. Of that group, more than 100 were able to find alternative housing.
But, as of Thursday, more than 111 remain in an emergency shelter with no place left to go.
"We are still in shock, disbelief," said Nicole Robertson, one of the people who escaped the fire.
Robertson, along with her six-month-old son, and 6 and 10-year-old daughters are among the crowd staying on cots in a room at the Bethlehem Baptist Church.
"My daughter is questioning where we're going to go," said Robertson. "'What happened to our toys?' As I’m thinking, I have no baby stroller. No way to get it. It’s difficult. It’s very unexpected and I didn’t think I would experience anything like this."
People can stay at this emergency shelter until Saturday. At that point, they will be moved to one of two other locations currently being explored by the Red Cross, city, county and state. Governor Tim Walz, his wife, and the lieutenant governor, along with other lawmakers, stopped by the shelter on Thursday to offer what comfort they could.
"This crisis of access to affordable housing is touching all corners of the state and a situation like this shows how precarious it is," said Gov. Walz.
A fire broke out at the Francis Drake Hotel apartment building in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday morning. (FOX 9)
"We just have to come to grips with, we are 50,000 units short in this state," he added. "And we have to figure out a way."
As work is underway to find permanent housing solutions, people we talked to are thankful for the donations pouring in, like clothes, coats, and shoes. But at this point, the Red Cross says monetary donations are needed most. That money is used to replace everything from lost insulin, hearing aids, and medication.
Meanwhile, others are focused on what's needed to find a long-term place to stay.
"What I keep thinking about is out birth certificates, personal information, obituaries, pictures," said Robertson. "Things we can’t replace are in that place."
Yet, through all the stress, Robertson can't help but hold her loved ones a little closer. "We made it out, that’s most important,” she said. “We have our lives, that’s all I’m grateful for.”
The Red Cross and the Minneapolis Foundation are collecting monetary donations. As of Thursday night, the Minneapolis Foundation has collected $155,000. You can click here for more information on how to help or donate by texting DRAKEFIRE to 243725. The goal is to raise one million dollars.