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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

In the Midst of Chaos, the Voice of Calm

By Linda Julich
At 1:30 a.m. on January 14, 2016, Laurie and Jerry Salazar were awakened to someone banging on their door, shouting “Fire! Get out!  Fire! Get out!”

That someone was their neighbor, Richard, and that fire was their apartment building.

“I grabbed my husband, my dog and my phone,” Laurie said. They evacuated to gather with other apartment dwellers at a designated, safe distance.  They watched, and heard the “whoosh” of the flames climbing up the side and around the back of the building.  They were praying, holding on to each other, hoping the building wouldn’t blow up.

Jerry and Laurie Salazar
“I started noticing things around me, I saw the fire truck, and other ‘red’ items.  That’s when we realized the Red Cross was on the scene.  They were there with the fire truck, right away,” Laurie recalled.

Then, in the midst of chaos, they heard the voice of calm. Robert, a volunteer from the Red Cross Disaster Action Team, checked in with Laurie and Jerry and assured them that they were alright, they would be helped.

Robert talked with everyone, explaining what the Red Cross would do to help them.  He called for hotels, finding one that could accommodate several families so they could be together.  He gave them a Red Cross debit card to use for immediate needs, and a bag with a few toiletries and emergency supply items.

“The firemen got what they could when they could finally enter the building.  They brought medications and a few other items,” Jerry said.  “But basically, you have nothing,” Laurie said.

Shortly after Laurie and Jerry settled in their hotel, they got a call from Kathy, their Red Cross case worker.

 “Kathy is a dream come true!” Laurie said.  Kathy made calls and helped with numerous issues from retrieving things, to replacing missing IDs, connecting them with resources, and keeping Laurie and Jerry supported in very tangible ways.

“We had no idea the Red Cross did all of this for fire victims” said Laurie, amid some tears.  “If it weren’t for the Red Cross, we would have nothing.”
Jerry and Laurie remain forever grateful.

The Red Cross responds to an average of more than one disaster a day in Colorado and Wyoming; most of these are home fires and apartment fires like the one that affected Laurie and Jerry. If you would like to help the Red Cross help families affected by these daily disasters, visit redcross.org/colorado to donate or to sign up to volunteer.

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