Last night, after a wonderful glass night at Rockfish, I was excited to hit the hay very early. I was in bed, asleep shortly after 10pm. It was perfect.
I was woken up several hours later with the definition of a “rude awakening”. My eyes were flashed with a blinding light as the sheriff of the local police department shined his flashlight into my eyes, having busted open my door.
Miss, put some clothes on and follow me outside. The building next to yours is on fire.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever clothed and ran out of my apartment faster. When I walked outside, I was immediately hit in the face with a sensory overload. Smoke and fire was billowing out of the roof of the apartment next to mine, the warmth hit my face as my eyes acclimated to the flickering firetruck lights and my feet were drenched by excess water from the hoses. It was an affront on all sides, as the sheriff explained to me how he’d been knocking on my door for over 5 minutes before they finally got the key from the apartment complex.
I was lucky enough to have grabbed a sweatshirt, but most of my fellow neighbors were underdressed considering the nip in the autumn air. The flames continued to climb as the hoses sprayed down, and my most intense thought was a hope that they didn’t leap the gap between the two buildings. I will say, though, that if anything, the fire brought the neighborhood together. I had conversations with people I’ve never met before, people who live a floor above me. I found my friend, Kim from the building that was affected, in the clubhouse, which the complex opened up for the Red Cross to use. She’d barely ran out with more than a tshirt on, so I lent her my sweatshirt, thinking I’d be let back into the apartment.
20 minutes later, I was the one shivering outside. An older gentleman offered me a jacket (a Carolina one, no less!) which I gladly accepted. It was only later that he explained to me that his home was one of the ones that had been completely destroyed.
While his home was smoldering, he offered me one of his few possessions that hadn’t burned in the fire. At about 3:30 am, we were allowed back into our homes. They were pretty certain they’d tamed the flames, and I think they also wanted less folks loitering. I wasn’t able to fall asleep for a while, my heart was still racing. Every time I heard a sound, I jumped, thinking that someone was knocking again to let me know the fire had jumped.
I also managed to be interviewed by one of the local news networks and, after watching it today, I always forget how weird it is to hear yourself. Also, how crazy I sound when I talk in general.
Luckily, there was only one injury, and, though they lost all their belongings, everyone in my complex is required to have renter’s insurance so they’re covered.
Speaking of which: if you don’t have renter’s insurance, GET IT! It’s a cheap way to assure than if something this awful happens to you, you won’t be starting from scratch.
I’ll hopefully be spending tonight in the company of some friends in the hopes of forgetting that my heart keeps slamming in my chest.
Have you ever had a tragedy that brought people together?
OR tell me a fun story or joke to lighten my spirits!
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