Is moving or having a house fire more stressful? For 30-year-old graduate student, Tina Magnole, having a fire in the apartment she was moving into was stressful. Tina chose to take a break from moving for the night and decided to finish unpacking in the morning. Her electricity was scheduled to be turned on the following day, which left the spacious apartment unlivable for the night. Tina decided to crash on her brother’s couch; she didn’t know at the time that this decision would save her life. The following morning, Tina was awakened by a phone call from her landlord explaining that her apartment was on fire. Apparently, the stove exploded and set fire to the rest of the apartment. Tina’s furniture, including her brand new bed, was ruined; fortunately, her boxed possessions like her clothes were okay.
After chased away by the property manager for a good twenty minutes, the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago’s Disaster Action Team (DAT) was finally able to track Tina down at her brother’s apartment. Tina burst into tears as soon as the DAT responders sat down with her. This young woman was clearly distraught and clueless as what to do next. The DAT responders compassionately listened to all of her frustrations with the building management and her aspirations for the future apartment.
“I didn’t get renter’s insurance yet, because I didn’t know the square feet of the apartment,” Tina said.
DAT responders reassured Tina that the fire wasn’t her fault and she was lucky to be alive. A veteran volunteer suggested that Tina reach out to a couple of local agencies for advice. The Red Cross replaced Tina’s medication and gave her money for food. The DAT responders helped Tina determine what items were salvageable. “This was so helpful. I felt like you guys were on my side,” Tina said with tears in her eyes as the DAT responders left the scene.
Tina was unfamiliar with this part of the Red Cross’ program and knew she was in good hands. Like many others, Tina was shocked that all of the DAT responders were volunteers and that the Red Cross completely operates on donations. The Red Cross is there to help victims like Tina to move forward when it may seem nearly impossible.
Written by Lindsey Warneke