Delaney Ferguson was sleeping late this morning, enjoying her spring break, when she was jarred awake by the faint screech of a distant smoke alarm sounding. For the second time in three months, the frightened 7-year old was hurrying through thick smoke to escape a fire engulfing an apartment building.
The first time was on December 15, when she was sleeping over at a friend’s home in an adjacent building. That night, a two-alarm fire ripped through the top floor of the building, displacing more than 30 bewildered residents. That night, Delaney returned to the safety of her home while residents of her friend’s building received help from the American Red Cross.
Today, it was Delaney’s building that caught fire and it was she who alerted her mom, Tami. Tammi scooped up her 7 month-old daughter, Aashiyana, and she and Delaney escaped into the frigid morning air. Once again, Delaney stood shivering in her pajamas watching swarms of the firefighters battle the enormous flames.
The three-alarm blaze destroyed Delaney’s home and those of her neighbors. Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers assembled the families in the complex’s clubhouse and got to work passing out blankets, flip-flops, socks, diapers, and hot coffee. They brought stuffed animals, crayons, and coloring books to soothe the children’s nerves while they talked with their parents about their needs for food, clothing, shelter, prescription replacements, and other essentials to get them through this difficult time.
Delaney said she was scared, but throughout the morning she was seen speaking gently and kindly to the younger children, engaging them in play, and urging them to select an animal or a box of crayons from the Red Cross. Despite, or maybe because of, what she’s been through, Delaney knows that small kindnesses are what helps during scary times. “She’s just that kind of kid,” said her smiling mom, Tami.