In an Instant

It was a typically busy evening during an especially busy time.
Felecia Taylor was cooking hamburgers for her sons, Marquavious, 14, and
Martayvious, 10, on a warm September evening. The family had only just moved
into the apartment in Portland from Vancouver, Washington.  Along with Felecia’s stress of relocating to
a new city came the added anxiety of her children starting a new school.
While Felecia multitasked fixing dinner and filling a tub in the
nearby bathroom, she stepped away from the stove briefly to check the water
temperature in the bathtub. She called to Marquavious to turn the stove off.  He was happy to oblige and turned the burner knob
until he heard a clicking sound. 
Thinking the stove was off, he left the kitchen. And just like that, the
stove was on fire.
“It happened so
fast,” Felecia said. “I came back a second later and there was smoke
Luckily, the weather was
still nice, and the front door and windows all were open. Neighbors nearby quickly
rushed in and used an extinguisher on the blaze. But it was too late. The smoke
damage was extensive, and because the apartment had also lost electricity, the
family needed to find someplace else to stay.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do,” Felecia said.
Moreover, her landlord changed the locks to prevent anyone unauthorized from
entering the apartment until it was repaired and cleaned up. This meant Felecia
didn’t have access to any of their clothes, furniture, and memorabilia to see
if they were salvageable.

A Red Cross volunteer arrived on the
scene and furnished Felecia with a comfort kit,
washcloths, towels, and blankets as well as a gift card to help her buy other needed items.
The Red Cross also provided emergency housing for the family.

To help in the interim
between the fire and being able to move back into their apartment, the Red
Cross continued its support, both physical and emotional.  The family finally returned to their apartment
in late October.  “We’re only just
getting back into our routine,” said Felecia.
But getting back to normal has been an ongoing and sometimes
difficult ordeal. Although livable, the apartment still needs work. The stove
has been replaced, but the kitchen cabinets bear scorch marks that remind
Felecia of the fire whenever she goes into the kitchen. The whole place continues
to reek of smoke. 
“I have to be patient,” Felecia said about waiting for complete
normality to return. “I gotta be cool with it. Some people have lost even more
in fires, even lost their lives. We are so blessed in so many ways.”

The Red Cross support indeed was welcomed, and it also came as a
surprise. “I think what they’re doing is awesome,” Felecia said.  “I didn’t really understand beforehand that
the Red Cross helped anyone with local fires. I’m very thankful for them.”