I never expected my family to be impacted by Disaster Relief Services from the American Red Cross. But when we needed them, I’m so glad they were there.  

The Chaos

It’s something you just don’t expect. I was at a parade with my daughter-in-law, when she casually mentioned an apartment house fire in Bangor that she thought was near my son’s place. A quick check online left me shocked when I saw pictures of his apartment engulfed in flames. Of course, I called his phone immediately and it was the scariest few seconds of my life. Thankfully, he picked up, surprised to hear from me because he was at the funeral for his fiancé’s sister.  

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We all headed to the corner of Charles and Union Streets to see what remained of the 4-unit building. The fire had started in my son’s apartment and it was devastating. They are never going to be able move back in. All their things were gone, including their 2 cats. But Charlie and his fiancé, Hollie, were safe. 

The Calm

Shortly after the fire inspectors arrived, I saw a white American Red Cross vehicle pull onto the street. I was impressed with how quickly they arrived and how confidently they set up to help. I was standing away from the fire scene, so I didn’t hear their initial interactions with Charlie and Hollie. But when I did walk up, I heard two volunteers explaining to them, in calm and compassionate tones, what would happen next. They would open a case file, to help them in the coming days. They would immediately give them money to find shelter for the night and would help them, going forward, until they could permanently relocate.  

All in all, they were an oasis of calm and relief in a sea of chaos. When everything was going crazy, they were the clear heads saying, “We’re so sorry, but it’s going to be okay.” I’ve done numerous interviews with American Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteers, but had no idea just how valuable they are until my family needed them. I think many of us used their caring handling of the situation as inspiration to move forward with clearer heads, by setting up GoFundMe and Facebook fundraisers to help Charlie and Hollie start over. 

The Gratitude

Thank you to the folks who responded to the Charles Street fire in Bangor, firefighters and Red Cross volunteers. I speak for all of my family when I tell you how much we appreciate you.  

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