Early in the morning, still in the dark before dawn, I'm fortunate to be in my tiny house on the sofa where I sleep, watching the news of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The loss in New Jersey is just horrible.
I remember when we were forced to leave our house after a chimney fire. We were barely holding on to it as it was. We had no money to repair the boiler and we used the fireplace to heat the house. It wasn't great. It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit inside. The hot water tank had also crumbled from decay and although not too expensive, it was very old and very complicated to replace. So we were boiling water and putting it in camp shower bags, or occasionally boiling a lot and taking a bath. That was rare, but such a treat in the cold. Temperatures in Utica dropped below freezing in the winter, so getting up to 40 from 10 below was pretty good for an old Victorian fireplace and a few of those nice oil filled space heaters.
The fire department condemned the fireplace, No one could get the boiler working and we were faced with a choice $1500 to fix the fireplace $2000 to fix the boiler or $1200 to move back to Cleveland where there was a crummy little cottage with a badly leaking roof waiting for us. We chose to abandon the house and put what little we could in a small trailer and move back to our home town. It wasn't the best situation, but we were back in our home town near family. We planned to return to collect the rest of our possessions, but when we finally got back vandals had stolen or destroyed it all. Even the furniture we planned to sell to help us rebuild.
And yet, we had it much better that the survivors of Sandy. We were blessed to get some aid from the Red Cross the first night after the fire. We were lost and didn't know what to do. They opened their office for us. Gave the kids some games, personal supplies for us and a room for us all to sleep and relax. That night, refreshed from the hot shower and comfortable beds, we decided to fight back and try to fix the house. We tried to get government aid - no. We tried to get a loan - no. No family, no friends to help us get the house back together, no insurance coverage. It was time to leave the house and move. We lost a lot, but it was a good decision.
I'm so grateful to the Red Cross for that one night of kindness and aid. I know that they will help and give comfort to those people who lost their homes. I don't have much. Maybe you don't either, but I donated a little. Here is where to donate to the Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/charitable-donations