Monday, February 20, 2017

Canon City Fire Brings Help from Red Cross

By Bill Fortune

Fire changes everything. One day you have your new home, new furniture and ready to start a life together. The next day you have nothing. “I didn’t even have a tooth brush or a comb,” said Sandy. She and her fiancĂ© had purchased a home a little over two months ago. They used all of their savings to get the home and were in the process of fixing it up. “It was looking so nice. We had recently painted and bought new living room furniture,” Tom said. “Now we have nothing.”
Sandy and Tom's home after the fire in Canon City.
Photo Courtesy of Tom.

The fire struck on Tuesday, February 7. The couple was helped by the Fire Department’s “Burn Out Fund” that provided a stay in a hotel. The Fire Chief also notified the Red Cross of the couple’s loss and that is when the disaster action team went to work. 

Thursday, Team Captain Esther Savage and volunteer Laurie Riddock traveled to Canon City to meet with the couple who were reluctant to accept Red Cross help at first. “I could tell that they were struggling.” said Savage. “It was hard for them to admit they needed our help.” After all, they had insurance and they felt that accepting help form the Red Cross meant someone else might not get the help they needed. What they didn’t realize is that it would take some time for those benefits and in the meantime they didn’t know what to do. All of their belongings were burned or heavily damaged. They even lost their beloved cats. The more they talked with the Red Cross disaster workers, the more they realized how little they had and how much help they needed.

The disaster team gave them an assistance card that they could use to buy clothing and food. They were also given comfort kits with personal hygiene items and vouchers to help them replace the glasses that were ruined. “The Red Cross has been amazing,” Sandy said. “They gave us the things we needed even before we realized we needed them. I can’t believe how many times I have reached into that Red Cross bag [comfort kit] to get something that I needed; a tooth brush, a comb, soap to wash with, it was all there in that Red Cross bag.”

Sandy (L) and Tom (R) pose with Team Captain Esther Savage
at the Red Cross office in Pueblo. Photo by Bill Fortune/
American Red Cross
Recognizing the difficulty the couple was having, Esther connected them with another Red Cross resource, volunteer. Dr. Julaine Field. Field is a Licensed Professional Counselor who volunteers as part of the Red Cross Disaster Mental Health program. She was at the airport in Atlanta, on her way home, when they were able to connect with one another. She spent time on the phone talking with Sandy and Tom helping them come to grips with the loss of the pets and the loss of their home. “She really made a difference,” Sandy said tearfully, “We hadn’t had anyone that we could vent to, other than each other. It helped so much just to talk it through.”

“We truly appreciate the kindness and support that the Red Cross gave to us, especially Esther and Laura. They were so easy to work with and they made us feel whole again," Tom said. "We’ll get through this disaster and when we are back on our feet, maybe we will join to help others.” 

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