Last night someone dear to me lost her home. It was sudden. It was violent. It was unexpected.
@TrekJen was cold. Her power went out. She fiddled with the breakers, but couldn't get electricity. Since she had a long shift at work the next day, she decided to turn off the main breaker and go sleep at work where it was warm. While she was gone her house burned.
Jen got a call from a neighbor. She hurried back to her house only to see it engulfed in flames, firefighters hard at work. A picture of extremes, bright, hot flames illuminating the dark frigid night. How helpless and alone must she have felt? Jen posted on twitter from her phone: "And my house burned down."
I direct messaged her: "Please tell me that you were kidding!" She was not. We kept in touch via text message, and I tried my best to update for her on Twitter. There was one room, in a back corner of the house that hadn't burned. Could some things be saved? Then the roof fell in, as she watched.
When the flames were out the firefighters showed Jen the electrical cord in the attic that was to blame for this disaster. It was probably smoldering up there when she left. The cabin was her dad's winter home. They went there every year for 20 years. . A painful sentimental loss.
Currently my Tweetdeck Mentions and Direct Messages columns are bursting with inquiries as to how to help Jen. I see a lot of outpouring of love, well-wishes, and virtual hugs for her.
I spoke with Jen early this morning. She has a place to stay for a week. A local motel room has been donated to her. Her dog is safe at a friend's house. A trusted friend is on her way via airplane to her to help sift through the rubble and ash later today. Snow is expected tomorrow, so this must be done soon if anything of value is going to be salvaged. Jen has been in contact with her insurance company, and has been granted some time off from work.
Jen's insurance covers her house only, not any of her personal belongings. The loss of her longboards and Star Trek collectibles stings, but in time those items can be replaced. Even worse are the five hard drives full of digital photos that are gone. The firefighters were able to throw a single plastic tub full of irreplaceable photos out the window. Other than that box of pictures, all she has is her laptop, phone, clothes she was wearing, her dog and her trucks.
My biggest concern was that she was all alone. That first need has been answered by her longtime friend who is flying to her today. Thank you, Laurie! Next, she needs some sleep! Physical and mental exhaustion hinders good decision-making, and makes everything look worse. Hopefully she will get some sleep this morning.
Thirdly, Jen needs the basics: clothes, toiletries, food, and housing. This is where we can help!
Once Jen is rested I expect a call from her. I am working with her to set up a PayPal account for donations to help her get basic needs. As soon as a donation site is available I will post a link on this blog and on Twitter. Meanwhile, pray for Jen and count your blessings!