Monday, July 20, 2015

Life Unexpected

On Wednesday, July 8, I was stamping project for the upcoming Stampin' Addicts Blog Hop when my whole world changed. My husband, who was cooking dinner, yelled "Fire!" I thought he was joking, but ran upstairs anyway. He wasn't.

The pan on the stove was aflame. He was trying to remove the pan and cover it with a lid, but the spatter cover prevented a seal and flames just came up higher around the sides. He picked up the fire extinguisher and held it about 2 feet away. Our kitchen was tiny, he couldn't get farther away. I made him stop because somewhere in my head a voice kept repeating, "Don't use use a fire extinguisher on a grease fire." We had the right kind for a grease fire, but he was so close, the grease could have just sprayed him. At the same moment, we knew it was too big for us. I ran to call 911 on the phone, and he got our roommate Don out the door and safely across the street. He then came back to try from farther away. By then the smoke was thick and getting lower. He tried in vain, but he is still my hero. He got Don and I out. I called 911 hysterically. She told me to stop yelling and I hadn't realized I was.

Although it was mere minutes, the fire trucks seemed to take FOREVER! I just stood there crying until I sat in the grass crying and watching the house burn. I could hear dishes falling and cabinets burning. It was the worst feeling of utter helplessness I have ever felt.

Our local volunteer fire department came and immediately got to work. A neighbor who was a retired fire fighter came to help them. I was astounded at how this group of men were running towards a house that we just ran out of. They just got to work. Throughout the entire night, they were awesome. They had to change their plan when the electrical lines fell down as they crossed the driveway.

It felt like hours before it was put out. Probably because Bubba told the paramedics that I was in shock. They didn't like my high blood pressure and I did my best to deep breathe it down. Seriously, that was a challenge. In the ambulance, you can't see anything, but you can hear some yelling, so it makes an anxious person worse. They were understanding, though, and let me out.

The next couple of hours were a waiting game. Little did I know the waiting would get worse over the next few days. Neighbors helped out, including Sarge and Diana across the street. His yard is always perfect and we messed it up. But he was understanding. Other neighbors offered help and support. We had no idea that was the start of an outpouring of love and support we would encounter.

The American Red Cross team helped us get a hotel room in Shawano for the night and some food money. I took Don away to McDonalds for supper. I was a mess and I think people knew it because they were very helpful.

The firefighters brought out items they thought were important as they found them after the blaze was out and they were looking for hotspots. One brought out a wedding canvas and somberly gave it to me. I took it and thanked him. I felt bad because it was a friend's of Bubba's wedding picture that he took as their photographer, not ours. But I didn't want to tell them. They also found my wallet, a big blob of sooty, burnt fabric. Half of it was still ok, so I saved my check card and my driver's license. I kept in the hallway to the basement on a hook, which was mere feet from the main fire. How it made it, is unknown.

The firefighters also covered and moved everything they could in the basement to try to keep it dry from the amount of water dripping down. The basement was still in 2-4 inches of water, but they tried. I think those big tarps saved some of my belongings. Not much of Bubba's and Don's was ok,  but we did try to get some clothing. It stunk though, and the next day, I gave to the laundry people to clean.

Sleep that night was elusive. There were just too many things that were unknown. We had never dealt with anyone who had a fire or knew what to do. I called the insurance company and immediately felt better. They took over the hotel room; they found a team to board our house up the next day; they got the adjusters assigned and in motion; they connected us with a laundry company that got all of our clothes and bedding the next day to take to launder the stench out; and they got the cleaning crew who would take some furniture in the basement and try to remove the smell and smoke damage.

We will get our clothes back if they could save them. They also sent back by Friday afternoon, our "emergency clothes." The smell of freshly laundered clothing was never so delightful.

The next few days were full of small blessings. I shopped for some fresh clothes for Don and I as well as some food for the hotel room. We found things in the mess that could be saved. We had hope. The insurance adjusters couldn't come until Monday and Tuesday the next week, so the waiting began.

We had each other. Bubba and I make a great team when challenged. We watch out for each other and take care of things as needed. We laugh and hug tears away. We also focus on the here and now and the positive. Sure, most of what we own can now fit in half of a trailer, but we have each other and Don.

Don has been hilarious. He always looks at the bright side of all situations. He called our hotel stay a vacation. When Bubba made a joke  about him not cooking anymore, Don said, "Amen." When I asked him if we should get him a swimming suit so he could go swimming in the hotel pool like we did a few years ago he said, "Those are good memories." He clearly didn't want new ones.

We have an amazing family. My mom came with coffee cake and scotcheroos as well as a kit of office supplies so we had scissors and envelopes, and a notebooks. I could start tracking everything with the insurance on more than hotel notepaper. My nephews texted me good wishes. My sister Nicole and Greg found Bubba a phone and brought it right over. My aunt and uncle and cousin brought quilts and cookies and love.

Additionally, we have an amazing friend support system from all over the country. The very first night a friend of Bubba's started a gofundme campaign to help us raise funds for necessities. Watching that fund grow so quickly made us cry, everytime we look at it. The Oshkosh-Menchaca-Hill Family held a food sale in our honor and gave us a place to hang out Saturday, during what we call the WAITING GAME. We could do nothing at the house until Monday. Photography friends have a gofundme campaign to help Bubba rebuild his photography business. I have had offers and gifts from Stampin' Up! Friends.  We are so lucky to have this community of love surrounding us.

Thank-you all!

Love from us!

Sara, Bubba and Don

PS For you stampers out there, I used the Project Life Ipad App with Cinnamon Kit to make my pages.

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