“Devastating” and “thankful” are two words Donna repeats again and again when talking about the fire that destroyed her home on October 9, 2016.
It could have been so much worse. Donna’s husband, who had a stroke, was living across the street with his mother; her son and his five children were living with her in her Ohio home.
Her son had gone to a medical appointment, and he had the children with him, so no one was home. Her husband, at his mother’s home, called to her that their house was on fire. That fire, of undetermined cause, burned it to the ground.
“It was a total loss. It was devastating,” she says.
Donna and her family experienced the most common of disasters in the United States: Every eight minutes, the Red Cross responds to a home fire. When the American Red Cross is called to a fire, a trained team of volunteers responds. The most crucial support they offer is emotional; then they go on to assess other needs. Do those affected have a place to stay? Do important documents need to be replaced? What about medications?
In the days following the fire, a Red Cross caseworker calls the residents to find out how they’re doing and whether any other guidance is needed as they begin to recover.
The Red Cross provided material and emotional support to Donna and her family. A local church helped. A senior at Hocking High School cooked Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for them and brought it to them. Even Facebook friends have helped them get find “normal” again.
“It’s just overwhelming, the kind people out there,” Donna says.
Thanks to that kindness and their own resilience, the family is getting back on its feet. Their new home also needed new “feet”: Even the foundation had to be dug up and replaced. Donna, her son and the children are now living in their new home on the same property as their original home.
“We just have to count our blessings,” Donna says. “You can replace material things, but you can’t replace loved ones.”
Along with response and recovery, the Red Cross works to prevent fires through the installation of home smoke alarms and through fire safety education. This fall, the Red Cross will “Sound the Alarm” with a focused effort to install 100,000 smoke alarms between September 23 and October 15. If you would like to “Sound the Alarm! Save a Life,” visit https://www.redcross.org/sound-the-alarm.