By: Anmol Nigam, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer
Few expect a fire to destroy their home. Wooster-area pastor, Nick Cleveland, certainly never expected his family to feel the devastation of a fire.
Nick was in the car when he received a call from his wife, Vicki.
“We’re all out of the house,” she said. “Our house is on fire. It’s bad.”
The couple tried to comprehend their loss as firefighters tackled the blaze. Thinking to the future, Nick and Vicki struggled to piece together their next steps. The fire had thrust them into a harsh reality.
“Where are we going to live?” Nick said. “Where are my kids going to be? Are they going to be okay?”
The situation overwhelmed them. They felt helpless, but they were not alone. Lara Kiefer, Executive Director of the Lake Erie and Heartland Chapter knew they would need plenty of support. She started working right away to get them the things they would need.
“The minute that immediate tangible support shows up it is a game changer,” Nick said. “Immediate support turns helpless toward hopeful.”
The Red Cross gave them shelter when they had none, provided them financial assistance to purchase food and clothing, and began solving problems that Nick and Vicki had yet to even anticipate.
“When the Red Cross showed up… it helped turn our tragedy and helpless feelings toward hopeful ones,” Nick said. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your help when we needed it most!”
The difficulties in home fires do not end with the fire. Through the weeks afterwards, the Red Cross and our volunteers help by ensuring those in need regain some of their lost stability.
Many believe, incorrectly, that they have 10 minutes to exit a burning home. The actual time is closer to two minutes. Education and preparedness is a critical during in a home fire. Through Operation Save-A-Life, we work with local firefighters and volunteers install smoke alarms and provide fire safety education.
“I’ll never forget July the fifth. Ever,” said Nick in a sermon shortly after the incident.
For more information on Red Cross fire preparedness initiatives visit Operation Save-A-Life.