“The Red Cross took care of us”

Written by Red Cross volunteer Timothy Lind

Delores Thompson (right) and her mother, Sandra, lost their Charlotte-area home in a fire.

After a fire destroyed Delores Thompson’s home in Charlotte, she learned firsthand that the Red Cross is about more than national disasters and blood; it’s about restoring lives, one family at a time.

Delores had been watching the 2012 Olympics and preparing a meal in the kitchen for her son, Jeremy, when her dogs began scratching at the door to go outside. Delores’ mother, Sandra, was returning to her upstairs bedroom when she heard a noise that “sounded like those sparklers, pssssssrrrrrrr, pssssssrrrrrr, like little fireworks were going off.” 

When Sandra got to her bedroom, she found herself in a circle of fire.

Back in the kitchen, Delores didn’t think anything was  wrong.  “The alarm didn’t go off. My dogs’ barking is my alarm system.  I just thought they were scratching because they needed to go out.” 

Still, she had an inkling she should check on her mother. 

“When I went around the corner there was a big ball of smoke coming at me.”  She quickly got her family outside to safety.

You often hear about the dramatic power of fire. Delores said, “As soon as we closed the door the flames went up. Within 30 minutes, everything was destroyed.  We went from having – to not having.”

The fire engines arrived, and the police, and with them the question if the Thompsons had anywhere that they could stay.

That’s when a call to the Red Cross was made.

“I always thought the Red Cross was about blood and plasma, and about big disasters.  Well, it opened my eyes.  This was a disaster to us.  I thought it was remarkable the way the Red Cross took care of us.” 

The Red Cross arranged temporary shelter for the Thompson family and provided them with the food and clothing they needed. “They called the pharmacy and doctor’s office for us, and then checked back with us to make sure that we were able to get all of our medicines.”

When I visited the Thompsons in their temporary home, they were very welcoming and seem relaxed. While their damaged home is cleaned and rebuilt, they continue to have conversations with their insurance company. They’re eager to return home but there’s still much work to be done. 

Sleep doesn’t come easily or restfully for the Thompsons; they’ve been uprooted from home, and any unusual noises alarm them.  Best case, the family will be back in their home in two to three months. The dogs, who are staying with relatives for now, will be back together with the family then, too.

Despite their hardships and fears, the Thompsons’ spirits are in good shape. 

“Everyone brought so much love, so much care with them,” said Delores.

Thanks to the Red Cross, this community takes care of its own and good will prevails.   And hopefully, when the dogs are restless in the future, it’ll just be to tell anyone listening that they need to go out.

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