July 15, 2016 started out as a fairly typical day. I happened to be home, after a couple days of severe back pain which my chiropractor was able to pop me out of UNUSUALLY quickly the day before. After catching up on sleep lost from the back pain, I awakened at noon, almost decided to roll over for another hour or so of sleep (THAT is significant in the story). About an hour later, I was just finishing my breakfast … I mean, lunch, when I heard a loud BANG outside. Thinking it was one of those “no rain” thunder claps that are usually much louder and sharper than the kind that happen during a rain storm, I almost ignored it, but then heard glass tinkling, so went to look at what happened. Right outside my front door there was an SUV pushing into our utility pole. Two guys were running around it trying to get in, but the doors were locked and the driver was passed out over his steering wheel, with his foot on the gas, so the SUV kept pushing and moving, frightening the guys and myself. I called 911, while I was on the phone with them, the cracking and popping and sizzling started at our main electric connection up under our eaves.
The guys screamed at me to “GET OUT!!!” I had the clothes I was wearing, my slippers on my feet and my cell phone. I had to run out and leave everything and especially my cats. I was TERRIFIED. My poor husband couldn’t understand me when I called him, I could hardly talk, just squeaking and coughing out words, while my heart beat out of my chest. Helplessly across the street watching smoke build up, then the flames, never was I so happy to see my husband, who is so strong in situations like this. But even in all that, the entire time, way deep down inside me, there was a sense of peace, knowing that God’s Spirit was with me, calming me and giving me strength. When the storm rages on the top of the ocean, the water is calm way down deep.
So, in the end, when all was said and done, it turned out the attic was obliterated and the rest of the house was almost completely ruined by smoke and water damage. We were greatly protected by God, because it took PSE&G much, much too long to get the power cut off and the fire was on the same side that our gas connection was to the stove, so if any fire had worked it’s way down in the wall, I hate to think of it. We lost almost all our stuff. Miraculously, Fredd’s computer where ALL his client work is done was completely fine. 7 out of 10 of our cats were rescued that day (thank God for caring and patient firemen). We found two cats over the next two weeks, the third was much too stubborn, would not be caught and was found in February having died in our crawl space.
When the firemen were working, we were being approached by men who were telling us how they could help us work with our insurance company and get repairs done. One man was very kind and friendly, didn’t give off the “snake” vibes that the others did. These guys were public adjusters. They would act as liaisons between our insurance and us, being sure we got the best that insurance would offer. The public adjuster was a God-send, because we’d have to figure out EVERYTHING. He had a local hotel get a room ready for us, he then set out to look for a temporary house, provided a construction company to take care of the demolition and re-build and dealt with the insurance company. Red Cross came and talked with us and provided a gift card (also reassured us that the Public Adjuster that we had was a good one). At the end of the day, we got our cats gathered in our cars and let them loose in my Mom’s upstairs. Then crashed at the hotel.
If you haven’t heard this story from me, you may be wondering about the SUV. Turns out the man was carrying a few little popsicles on dry ice, with the lid off the container and his windows shut. Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, which makes us pass out if we inhale too much. As far as we know, he didn’t get injured and was OK after the whole thing.
And finally, it really was a blessing in a very frightening disguise. Our house needed work desperately, all over from top to bottom. We were able to expand the upstairs and increase storage. We did almost all the things we talked about doing if we could afford it – central air, larger bedroom, bedroom on back of house with large windows over looking the park, washer, dryer, water heater and breaker box on the first floor (rather than basement where we get flooding sometimes) and a new roof (poor old one was shot). We also found out that the house was a structurally unsound … eeek!!
But better than that, Fredd and I learned and grew a lot spiritually. We were reminded that God cares for us, no matter what is going on around us. That was reinforced for us, when we went to church the next day. Now check this out … we were both SUPER exhausted, but Fredd thought of all times, we needed our brothers and sisters in Christ NOW more than ever .. so off we went. Even more, our church elders plan music and sermons WEEKS in advance. The songs and the sermons usually correspond. We walked into church at the moment our worship leader announced the first hymn … “God Will Take Care of You” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MdZ7RdF07Eo). Our Pastor said he got tears in his eyes when he saw us come in at that moment. And the sermon was called “The Causes and Cures for Anxiety” (http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=717162357280) from Matthew 6:19-34 … verse 19 says “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupts, and where thieves break through and steal” and may I add, where fire destroys!! If you are a Christian and you have ever experienced that feeling that the Pastor was preaching right at you … I can’t tell you how it feels to think an entire church service was conducted specifically for you. It’s only God’s grace, mercy and goodness, nothing special about Fredd and I, others have gone through and are going through much worse, but this time God decided to pour His grace out on us, for which we are very grateful. I consider it a privilege to pass on this story and this sermon link to anyone who may be struggling with fear or distress.
You can find excerpts from my personal journal – here is the link to the first one: https://musings-out-of-a-fire.blogspot.com/2017/07/stepping-into-twilight-zone.html and you’ll find the others by month on the pop-out menu on the right side.
Links to videos:
CBS news, loved the ending “all amazingly safe” … that was God’s grace at work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrxISKX6pAw
From an independent source (person named tornadochaser – guess he chases more than tornados), here you get to hear the “nitty gritty”, firemen on calls and discussions and the popping and zapping of the arcing electric connection. You even get to see me, at my worst, much paler than usual (like vampire-ish) and my face says EVERYTHING I am feeling. I was most definitely NOT “ready for my close up” (just plannned on hanging around inside all day – never again, always be ready to run out the door): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9TUqtCpMDM&t=5s
Thanks for reading my rambling. I really do hope it is an encouragement and uplifting to someone who needs it. If so, please let me know, especially if there is something you need prayer for.