Just as the polar vortex was releasing the city from its grasp last week, young parents Destiny Anguiano and Narvel Rogers were resting in their room at the Ronald McDonald house after a day of visiting their newborn son at University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. Around 1 a.m., the couple from Hobart, Ind. said they heard a loud “boom” — the sound of a pipe bursting in a room down the hall.
Anguiano and Narvel were among seven families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Hyde Park near the hospital who were forced to leave when a pipe burst last week, causing damage to all four floors of the building, including the living areas, kitchens, a storage area and the basement.
Since the house at 5444 S. Drexel Ave. was flooded early Friday, restoration crews have been assessing the damage and drying out the structure, Holly Buckendahl, CEO of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, said Monday.
Anguiano and Narvel, along with the other families, were moved to a nearby hotel, and the nonprofit has launched a web page listing what people can do or donate to help. Buckendahl estimates building repairs will take at least four months, and in the meantime, the organization will make every effort to continue serving families with food, transportation, laundry access and other needs.
The Ronald McDonald House helps families like Anguiano and Narvel, whose son was born in November with a condition called gastroschisis, which has required several surgeries. The parents stay at the hospital with their son eight to 10 hours every day and have been sleeping at the Ronald McDonald house since his birth, saving on the cost of travel to and from their hometown. Some of their clothes and presents for their son were damaged by the water. Anguiano said she is praying and sharing the donation page on social media, hoping it helps the families who have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House for a long time.
“We’re just very thankful for everything the Ronald McDonald house has done to help us since [November] and what’s been happening with our son as he’s gotten surgeries,” but especially since the pipe burst, Narvel said.
Donations can also be made via the Ronald McDonald website and the nonprofit is also accepting food donations and help with transportation. Donations also can be brought to the house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; if donating food, please call first to arrange a specific drop-off time.
“Our number-one goal is to keep families as close to the hospitals as we can,” Buckendahl said. “It is hard when [a family has] a sick kid in a hospital unit — staying a block away is just too far. Even staying across the street can be too far.”
Buckendahl said they will continue to help families in need who are referred to them. The house can hold up to 22 families, and she hopes to move families back into rooms little by little as repairs are completed.
For more details on how to help, call the Ronald McDonald House at 773-324-5437.