Sunday, July 31, 2016

Neighbor helping neighbor: A Red Cross response to help a family displaced by a hail storm

By Leila Roche with Photos by Joe Coleman/American Red Cross

On the evening of July 28, the hail storm that impacted much of eastern El Paso County significantly damaged the Value Place Extended Stay where the David and Shelly Tighe and their family of seven were living. What was a disaster of broken windows and dented cars for most impacted their family more significantly.

Since moving to the Colorado Springs, Colo., from Escondito, Calif., two months ago, Shelly and her family had been living at extended stay hotels while building proof of employment and searching for a long-term rental. After the Value Place was incurred significant hail and water damage, they had to leave. The family of seven was in a new city with nowhere else to stay, and hotels across the city were sold out. So, Shelly called the Red Cross for help.

“The Red Cross has been there for us and helped us so much,” said Shelly Tighe. “Thirty years ago, they helped our family when our apartment caught fire. Now, they’ve helped us again when we needed it. I don’t know what we would have done.”

Shelly Tighe sits on a cot at the Red Cross
shelter in Colorado Springs.
On the night of July 28, Shelly was in bed sleeping and her son, Nicholas Tighe, 12, had just finished playing Monster Legends and was plugging in his cell phone. It had been storming all night, so when the hail began it was no surprise, he said.

“It started small, but I didn’t realize it was going to be that bad,” Nicholas Tighe said. “It got bigger and bigger and then – boom! The window shattered. It was scary.”

Nicholas was hit by the hail that came through the window prior to it shattering the window, and after the window shattered the family was able to take shelter in the bathroom until it subsided. They put up a blanket in the window, but the next morning the hotel manager informed them that too much water damage had occurred for hotel guests to stay.

“I called the Red Cross and within 20-30 minutes the same woman I spoke to on the phone was there,” Shelly Tighe said. “Everything was set in motion from there.”

The Red Cross had set up a shelter at the Sunnyside Christian Church near the intersection of Constitution Ave. and N. Murray Blvd., where Shelly and her family were able to stay for two nights until they were able to find lodging accommodations. The Red Cross also provided food for the family that accommodated for allergies and will continue to provide assistance as needed. Shelly also spoke to a Red Cross nurse, and Red Cross volunteers were able to help her set up doctors appointments for herself and one of her sons.

MacKenzie Tighe, 16, makes  her  cot at the
Red Cross shelter in Colorado Springs, Co on 7/26/16.
Michael Beck, a Red Cross volunteer who moved to Colorado Springs three weeks ago, spent a 12-hour day shift at the shelter helping the Tighes with fellow volunteer Keith Marcantel. “[We] spent today ensuring the safety and comfort of our clients as they began their recovery process,” Beck said. “As a team, we showed our clients that there are people in the community who care about them. […] At the heart, it's neighbor helping neighbor.”

Shelly said while the move to Colorado was a huge risk for her family and she had difficulties finding medical care and long-term housing in Colorado Springs’s saturated rental market, she is thankful for the support of the Red Cross and looking forward to her family’s future in the Pikes Peak region.

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