On the morning of July 7, 2014, Stephanie Gaston’s youngest child alerted her to a fire in their home in the small northwest Iowa town of Graettinger. When she went into the living room to check out the situation, she was overcome by the thick smoke. While she somehow made it outside, her five and seven year old boys, Gavin and Colin, ended up trapped in a bedroom. Stephanie and her neighbors tried desperately to get the boys out of the burning house, but sadly they didn’t make it.
Stephanie was treated for third-degree burns at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and then moved in with her parents in Cedar Rapids. American Red Cross volunteers have been working with Stephanie to help with her recovery. Volunteers, some of whom are her personal friends, provided money for food and clothing and of course, comfort when she needed it most.
Stephanie has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and continues to grieve for her children. She said she can sometimes smell the smoke and hear her boys scream for help. Stephanie’s rental home had smoke alarms, but none of them worked the day of the fire.
“It’s the worst pain in the world; losing your children,” Stephanie said. “Just make sure you have your smoke alarms and check them. This is probably being over cautious, but check them every month just to make sure they’re working.”
“Thank you, I appreciate it. Without people donating to the Red Cross I wouldn’t have been able to get back on my feet as soon as I did.”
Watch Stephanie's story here.