Written by: Phillip Iman, American Red Cross Disaster Specialist
Early one Monday morning we received a call from Audrain County Dispatch asking for assistance for a family of three whose mobile home, located on County Road 9377, had sustained unrepairable damage from a fire. Realizing the fire was just two miles from my home, I called the family myself to assess their situation.
The two adults and two children had been awakened by the scorching smell of smoke. The children had yelled out for Mom and Dad because their path of escape was blocked by fire coming up from the floor. The dad ran through the flames and rescued the children. After getting the family to safety, the dad ran back in to get what he could, realizing the home was going fast. He managed to get their shoes, which he told me he was so thankful for.
The fire department arrived quickly, which allowed a few of the family’s appliances to be saved, but their clothing was either saturated by water and smoke or burnt up. Neighbors quickly took the family in from the cold but there wasn’t room for the family to sleep, so my phone call to them was very welcome. You could tell by the lady’s voice that she was extremely frightened; she didn’t know what to do and was scared to travel far. I called a local motel and paid for a room, and they assured me they could make it to the motel. We made arrangements to meet in the daylight.
I called about 8:30 in the morning and they hadn’t slept at all, but welcomed me to meet with them. A local volunteer and I met them at 11:00 and sat with them for over an hour, just talking over their loss and plans for the future. By the time we parted ways they had somewhat of a plan about what they were going to do next and they knew that we would be right there for them should they have questions.
They felt truly blessed by the emergency assistance we provided. The referrals we provided and the insight of our wonderful volunteer made them feel like they had options instead of hopelessness. The comfort kits were a welcome surprise, not to mention the Mickey Mouse we gave the young man. Through the tears of loss came a resolve to recover and the blessing of knowing that somebody cares. That is the joy of what we do.