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Red Cross Makes Damaged House a Home

flood clients
We lost just about everything, and these items (from the Red Cross) will help us make our house a home again.

Brian Burkle, of Vernon Center, N.Y., is getting married Aug. 10, and he’s sure of one thing: His fiancé isn’t marrying him for his house.

Brian’s house is one of the several hundred homes throughout upstate New York that were severely damaged by the flooding that started June 28. The business that he operates at his home, Triple B. Welding, was also destroyed.

“What I found out through all this,” Brian said, smiling, “is that she’s not marrying me for my house.”

Brian and his fiancé, Tina Barber, were among the dozens of people who visited an American Red Cross bulk distribution site Friday, July 5, at the Oneida Castle Fire Department in Oneida. Brian and Tina picked up water and cleaning supplies, received a referral to get financial help for a new furnace and hot water heater, and received free tetanus shots from the Oneida County Health Department.

Other residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the flooding received water, tarps, coolers, rakes, shovels and other supplies, and they were also able to meet with Red Cross volunteers who provided physical and mental health counseling. Red Cross caseworkers also worked with the residents to establish long-term plans for recovery.

“Our house is completely destroyed,” Brian said. “We lost just about everything, and these items (from the Red Cross) will help us make our house a home again.”

Brian and Tina were asleep in their home at about 3 a.m. Friday, when they received a call from a friend who said the water was at a dangerous level. Brian, Tina, Brian’s two children – Brian Jr., 18, and Amanda, 16 – and the family pets (one cat and one dog) were able to escape in their two vehicles just before the water reached their house.

“Another 10 minutes,” Brian said, “and we wouldn’t have gotten out.”

Fortunately, the wedding invitations and Tina’s wedding dress were not damaged (Tina put the invitations at the top of a shelf the night before the flood). And the couple insists that they won’t let the damage to their home stop their wedding at Hamilton College, where Tina works.

“We’re still getting married, even without a house,” Tina said. “With the help of the Red Cross, we’re going to rebuild it better than ever and start over new with everything.”