Last week over 1,000 people were evacuated from their homes when an apartment building caught fire in New Jersey. You may have seen the story, the footage and updates on the news. It was a massive, 5-alarm fire that – over fourteen hours – completely annhilated two-hundred and forty apartments.
Days later, many of these people have been allowed to return to their homes. However, five hundred residents are permanently displaced. It is a great travesty and though we count our blessings that no lives were lost, there are countless irreplacable treasures and tangible memories that are gone and many are grieving.
My brother and his wife are among the victims of this fire. Every day I speak to him and every day he tells me of the outpouring of support, assistance and love he and my sister-in-law receive. He is constantly surprised by the long-distance and local calls of old friends and acquaintances who want to help.
Hearing this – detecting a glimmer of hope through his deflated voice makes me thankful and reaffirms my faith in humanity.
I think of the firemen who rescued four tenants from the building, who stayed all night trying to contain the fire so it wouldn’t spread, the quiet souls who devote their lives to protecting others. I’m thankful for them, too.
I asked my brother what they need. They lost everything. We’ll be okay, he tells me. They’ll start over. They’ll all have to start over. Others are worse off than us. Just keep these people in your prayers.
As the days pass and the news coverage of this tragic fire is replaced by new events: politics, upcoming elections and the massive blizzard this week, please keep these people- who cannot weather the storm in their own homes, surrounded by their cherished possessions- in your thoughts and prayers.
And for those of you in the path of Winter Storm Juno – be safe and warm.