Monday, July 25, 2011

Memories Linger

Pictures. There is nothing I have found to be more precious to people than documented memories of adventures, weddings, vacations, birthdays, and various special occasions. When a fire engulfs a home these little treasures can be lost forever. On a drizzling day in Chicago, the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” rang true for me.

One Friday morning the disaster response team and I strapped on our American Red Cross vests and arrived at the home of Omar, a young soft spoken father of two. The fire, which had started and was contained to the attic, had been put out by the firemen. While the fire marshals secured the premises, the Red Cross provided comfort to the family and listened to their story.

“I saw the fire; I grabbed and carried my granddaughters out of the home. In just a couple of minutes the firemen came, I did not call them a man driving down the street stopped his car and called the firemen,” stated Omar’s mom.

Omar said, “I saw the firemen and I ran to the house to make sure that my mom and daughters where ok. Thankfully my mom had grabbed the girls and got out of the house as soon as she saw the fire.”

After speaking to Omar and his mom, the fire marshal let the family and the Red Cross know that it was safe to enter the home and asses the damage from the fire. This was my first time going into a home along with the family. When Omar and his family first saw the fire damage their expression turned from shock to that of sadness and loss, and left me breathless. The flames had scorched the entire content of the attic. The main floor was in disarray and flooding rapidly from the ventilation holes that the firemen created on the roof.

As I walked through the flooded home, I saw pictures lining the walls of the living room, dining room and bedrooms. I gazed upon Omar’s family photos as they silently told me the story of their life. I became a part of their birthday celebrations, graduations, family cook-outs, weddings and quinceaƱeras. I began to feel their sadness and their loss and I connected with the family on a deeper level. Now I view a fires aftermath with new eyes and this has strengthened my commitment to the Red Cross mission.

Pictures tell us so much about a person and a family. They showcase their essence and allow us to share in their memories and life. Omar and his family were happy to see that these treasures where not damaged by the fire and expressed their gratitude to the Red Cross for helping.

Today, with a single click, you can join a movement on Facebook to honor those who aren’t so lucky.

Visit and get a glimpse of what it’s like to lose your most precious memories. At the end of your visit, all of your photos will be fully recovered. Make a donation for every photo you can’t imagine life without.

1 comment:

Gerry Holmes said...

Very touching story, Erica. When we hear about a family's fire, we often think about their loss of a home but a home is replaceable. Personal items like family photos are not. At least the Red Cross is there to share in their grief and help them thru it.