“The fire department has gone out of its way to help us,” said Oscar Orona whose son survived being shot. “I’ll never forget everything they’ve done for us.”
UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department started a modest effort to help Uvalde shooting survivors and their families. Now, with substantial help from around the country, those survivors call it a “godsend” in their own time of need.
There is no greater pain than what the families of the 21 killed in Uvalde continue to endure. Absolutely none. But for the survivors, their own version of misery lives on.
“When he went in the classroom he said you’re all gonna die and he just started shooting people,” Samuel Salinas told ABC News in the days immediately after the shooting at Robb Elementary. He was in Room 112 and hit in the leg by shrapnel.
“He shot my teacher and then he shot the kids,” he said.
“It’s just overwhelming to understand my 10-year-old what he faced. It’s very heartbreaking for me,” his dad Christopher Salinas told ABC News this week. “He’s still dealing with pain. He is still having a hard time coming back to normalcy. So, it’s just an ongoing part for me, too, you know, get the special help that he needs.”
“It’s difficult for me because I know what he was like before versus what he’s like now,” his dad Oscar Orona said.
Khloie Torres was also a survivor of Room 112.
“No parent wants to hear you know, the things that a 10-year-old had to witness that day,” her father Ruben Torres Jr. told ABC News.
And the Uvalde Fire Department, a volunteer department with just three paid employees, was listening to their struggles too.
“And we noticed that the wounded were being kind of left out so to speak,” said Lt. Patrick Williams, president of the Uvalde Volunteer Fire Department.
Because as financial support flowed to Uvalde, the survivors and their hospital visits, their physical and emotional therapy sometimes took a back seat.
“We mourn the loss of all those poor innocent children that lost their lives,” said Oscar Orona. “And I say ‘we’ the survivors have to deal with the aftermath of what our kids went through, what they suffered.”
“And you know we are the forgotten ones. I hate to use that term. We don’t mean any disrespect to the families that lost their children. But our kids have kind of gotten lost in the shuffle.”
“For those that lost loved ones they weren’t able to function the next weeks, months not going to work not bringing in an income. But the same thing was happening for the wounded,” said Lt. Williams.
So, the volunteer fire department started its own fundraising effort and was able to raise upwards of $4,000 each for 15 different families. But then, when other private and corporate donors joined the effort, each of those 15 families received more than $15,000 each.
The parents say the money has allowed them to stay away from work longer and focus on the physical and emotional recovery of their children.
“It has been an extremely huge blessing,” said Ruben Torres Jr. “And having these funds has been a blessing.”
“The fire department has gone out of its way to help us,” added Oscar Orona. “I’ll never forget everything they’ve done for us.”