Fire is your worst night mare!
It is a paralyzing feeling to see your whole family in shock and watching your apartment burn to ashes within 4 to 5 hours.
I was at work, when my father came to my office and just sat very quietly in the waiting area. The minute I saw him, I knew something serious was going on. He just said to me: “Everything will be OK! Don’t worry! Your Mother and children are all safe in the car now.” I ran outside to see them, and I can’t describe how little by little my whole ground started to shake.
A little earlier… My older daughter heard the fire alarm first, and alarmed everyone in our family – Grandma, Grandpa and her younger sister. My Mom decided to take her documents with her, which saved us from a lot of trouble and took my younger daughter. My older daughter, just took off… as she was trained in elementary school. My Father had no choice, but to follow her, watching all the metal doors slam behind him. All of them took the side stairs from our second floor, and came to my work. By that time the smoke and fire was visible from both sides of the apartment complex.
The minute my Mom saw me, she started to cry… I was still in denial. We went back and there was no doubts, that all of us were on the streets. The fire spread right before our eyes… I could just hear new fire engines coming.
I took my family away from the scene, so we could discuss what to do next.
The newspapers wrote the next day that all residents were being placed in a temporary shelter, but I can tell you that we waited till late in the night and no one was offered water or a blanket. I can’t depend on others when I have two exhausting children and elderly parents. I started to call around…
I was so fortunate to have a friend who took all of us under his wing. The girls fell asleep right away, while all of us had a late night discussion.
That night, it was my turning point in life… I took a couple days off work, so I could collect my thoughts. People who I never knew offered their help. The Red Cross came the next morning with temporary help. At least we could stay at a shelter for three days… My Mom had a stroke after a few days and I was still in college finishing my last semester.
When it rains, it pours? No, I was overflown by the circumstances. I was beyond my comfort zone. I closed myself of in the hotel’s shower, while the girls were sleeping on my bed and prayed… I had no power for anything else, I can’t cry, I can’t breathe… I had 4 people to take care of besides me.
The next day started with sunshine. I continued going to work, the girls went back to school… I found a new apartment for us to move in. We slept on a carpeted floor with nothing in it, but we were so happy that we had each other during this difficult time.
I learned an important lesson – I can “eat” an elephant in one bite, but not alone!
I still can’t thank enough all those anonymous people who donated their furniture, clothes, toys, and food to all of us and many others like us.
Thank you, but most of all I thank all my family and friends who helped me to survive through this turmoil!