Last summer, the lives of Elizabeth Morales and her family changed in a matter of minutes when a fire destroyed their home in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. “By the time I arrived, I was just watching gallons and gallons of water pouring out of our home. So, at that point, you kind of realize that everything that you have is now destroyed,” recalls Elizabeth.
A fire that began in their neighbor’s home had spread to Elizabeth’s family and in the blink of an eye, the home where Elizabeth grew up and lived for more than 20 years was gone. When the Morales were finally allowed in the house by the fire department, Elizabeth’s husband, Jose, remembers how everything was in disarray, “Everything was pretty much destroyed…everything was black pretty much from the smoke…couches were pushed over, clothes were thrown everywhere.”
Elizabeth remembers how overwhelmed the whole family felt after the fire, and how comforting it was to be met by volunteers with the American Red Cross, “they met us at our level of chaos and explained to us what to expect, a list of places to call and things we needed to do next”
Late that night, Elizabeth recalls, how grateful they were to have the basic items the Red Cross has provided, “They gave us a kit that had all the accessories like shampoo, toothbrush, deodorant, shaving cream. They thought of it all.” Adding that the Red Cross even provided medications, something she didn’t think of and that members of her family were going to need, “the Red Cross connected us with a nurse and helped us get prescriptions by the next day free of charge.”
After living in a hotel for a month, Elizabeth and her family relocated to a temporary home while theirs is being rebuilt, which may take at least a year. As our conversation was coming to an end, Elizabeth reminded us once more about how crucial it was for the family to have the comfort and support of the Red Cross, “they called and checked on us to make sure that emotionally we were still doing ok. How we were settling in, and to let us know all the resources that were available to us.”
You can take two easy steps to protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the risk of dying in a home fire in half.
Click here to find out more about volunteering opportunities with the American Red Cross.
Written by Isis Chaverri, Regional Marketing & Communications Manager