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Volunteers Leave Donations At Monroe College Emergency Post For Survivors Of Bronx High-Rise Fire

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Many people in more than 100 apartment units escaped Sunday's fire in the Bronx with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a phone.

A nearby college has been turned into an emergency post for survivors, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

"They've gone through an unimaginable 24 hours. We're just trying to help the best we can," Monroe College President Marc Jerome said.

Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin and officials from the Office of Emergency Management visited the center Monday.

Survivors arrived all day to pick up clothes and food. It's also a resource center where loved ones were looking for those still missing and a place where those grieving can find comfort.

Renee Howard said she waited for hours at her 19th-floor window during the fire, until firefighters told her it was safe to leave.

"My neighbors died, the children died. The children, the parents, I don't understand," Howard said. "I don't understand why that happened like that, but God spared me."

Half a mile away, Howard broke down outside Monroe College's Ustin Hall on Jerome Avenue, thinking of the two children she knew who didn't survive.

"I know Mustafa. He had such beautiful, angelic eyes," she said.

NYPD Community Affairs joined Howard in prayer moments after she left with clothes and blankets that were being handed out at the resource center set up by the Red Cross.

Howard and others are being put up at nearby hotels.

"What were you able to retrieve from the apartment, if anything?" Rozner asked Pauline Bryan, a first-floor resident.

"Nothing at all," Bryan said. "Right now, I need some underwear and clothes."

Donations of clothing and bedding filled one room alone. There were nonstop drop-offs from volunteers of all backgrounds and faiths touched by the tragedy.

"It could happen to anybody. It could happen to me," said Alain Samba, a Bronx resident.

"There were clean towels and diapers, and wipes were needed," said Julie Fair of Pelham. "Until the donations stop, I will be here every day."

Lilia Cruz of Rockland County drove to the Bronx to drop off donations, hoping belongings from her home can comfort those who just lost theirs.

"It's horrible what happened to these people, and I just want to help," Cruz told CBS2's Cory James.

PHOTOS: On The Scene Of Deadly Fire At Bronx Apartment Building

Lost in the tragedy was at least one story with a happy ending. Two sisters got the call they desperately wanted.

Their brother and his girlfriend, who were both missing after the fire, were found.

According to the family, the couple was rushed to Westchester Medical Center, where 44-year-old Ramel Thompson was being treated for smoke inhalation.

Others who made it out could not stop thanking the firefighters for their heroic efforts.

So far, the Red Cross says it has housed 38 families, and a spokesperson for the organization said its casework team has registered 50 families for services, including mental health resources.

Click here for resources if you were impacted or would like to help survivors.

CBS2's Cory James contributed to this report.

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