By Arman, Communications Intern
It was my first experience riding with the American Red Cross to a fire. I was not sure what to expect.
Pulling up to the scene sparked so many emotions: sadness, confusion and grief. Immediately I noticed a blue tarp held down by six bricks over the roof, evidence of previous damage from May tornadoes. I felt the need and obligation to do whatever I could to help this family after a kitchen fire unexpectedly took away the place they hold dearest.
An aunt and nephew were the two people who lived in this house. Fortunately when the fire began, they were not home and no one was injured. Both of them at the time were staying nearby and were notified by a neighbor of a fire in their home. When they returned to their home, the fire department was already working to extinguish the flames.
The fire department did their job, and now it was time for Red Cross volunteers to help the family. The Red Cross would provide access to immediate food, clothing and shelter if the aunt and nephew needed it.
Entering the front door, the heavy smell of smoke and the dark ceiling peeling off of the living room were the first things we noticed. Taking only a single step inside, our feet were in water; we could see the dark kitchen, where the fire started. The microwave was black, burnt, and barely recognizable. The cell phone on the counter was melted. The kind aunt gave us a tour of the home to view the damage. Dark smoke filled both the aunt’s and the nephew’s bedrooms.
Once the tour was complete, the Red Cross volunteer leader called for a meeting to assess the situation. This time, thankfully, the family had insurance; the company had been notified and was to be on site within a couple hours. The team decided to leave a Need Help card, an After the Fire booklet and two comfort kits of toiletries. The Disaster Relief Team spoke with the family and told them to call the Red Cross if the insurance company did not come, something that happens too often.
To get more information on volunteering or donating to the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, visit redcross.org/stl.