Story: I didn’t know where I would sleep that night

Words and photo by volunteer Naomi Schwimmer

On July 10, Charlotte resident Shelia stood outside her home, watching her duplex smolder. The fire was on her neighbor’s side, but both families in the building were displaced that night. Smoke had poured into Sheila’s home from next door. Her porch and doorway were burned and both units lost electricity. Fire officials told Sheila and her husband they would have to evacuate.

Sheila and her husband lost their home to a fire. Fortunately, the Red Cross was there to help.

“I realized I had never experienced not knowing where I would sleep at night,” Sheila said.

Then she found out volunteers from the American Red Cross were on the way. When the volunteers arrived, the first thing they did was to assess the damage and find out if Sheila and her husband had anywhere to go.

“They were so thorough and organized,” Sheila said. “I work in human services myself, so I was very impressed with the procedure.”

Sheila learned the Red Cross would provide assistance with shelter and food until her renter’s insurance would kick in. The mention of insurance turned out to be critical for relieving Sheila’s situation; she was unaware it covered fire damage and previously thought renter’s insurance was only for theft.

Red Cross volunteers urged her to call her insurance company that night to submit a claim.

Sheila and her husband are currently looking for a new place to live while their belongings are being cleaned. The Red Cross was able to provide them with assistance for food and shelter. Sheila was glad the Red Cross was able to be there for her.

“I never really knew what the Red Cross did until I had to walk through it myself,” Sheila said. “I wouldn’t have thought of them to help me in this situation. Now I have a different perspective.”

Find out how you can become an American Red Cross volunteer and help people like Sheila.


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