It was a typically busy evening during an especially busy time. Felecia Taylor was cooking hamburgers for her sons, Marquavious, 14, and Martayvious, 10, on a warm September evening. The family had just moved from Vancouver, Washington to an apartment in Portland. Adding to the stress Felecia felt from relocating to a new city, was the added anxiety her children felt, starting a new school.
Felecia multitasked, fixing dinner while filling a tub in the nearby bathroom. She stepped away from the stove briefly to check the water temperature in the bathtub. She called to Marquavious to turn the stove off. He was happy to oblige, and turned the burner knob until he heard a clicking sound. Thinking the stove was off, he left the kitchen. And just like that, the stove was on fire.
It happened so fast, Felecia said. I came back a second later and there was smoke everywhere.
Luckily, the weather was still nice, and the front door and windows all were open. Neighbors nearby quickly rushed in and used an extinguisher on the blaze. But it was too late. The smoke damage was extensive, and because the apartment had also lost electricity, the family needed to find someplace else to stay.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do, Felecia said. Moreover, her landlord changed the locks to prevent unauthorized people from entering the apartment, until it was repaired and cleaned up. This meant Felecia didn't have a chance to see if any of their clothes, furniture, and memorabilia were salvageable.
A Red Cross volunteer arrived on the scene and furnished Felecia with a comfort kit, washcloths, towels and blankets, as well as a gift card to help her buy other needed items. The Red Cross also provided emergency housing for the family.
To help in the interim, between the fire and moving back into their apartment, the Red Cross continued its support, both physical and emotional. The family was finally able to return to their apartment in late October. “We’re only just getting back into our routine,” said Felecia.
But getting back to normal has been an ongoing and sometimes difficult ordeal. Although livable, the apartment still needs work. The stove has been replaced, but scorch marks on the kitchen cabinets remind Felecia of the fire whenever she sees them. The whole place continues to reek of smoke.
“I have to be patient,” Felecia said about waiting for complete normality to return. “I gotta be cool with it. Some people have lost even more in fires, even lost their lives. We are so blessed in so many ways.”
The Red Cross support indeed was welcomed, and it also came as a surprise. “I think what they’re doing is awesome,” Felecia said. “I didn’t really understand beforehand that the Red Cross helped anyone with local fires. I’m very thankful for them.”