"We were all in the house. I had just gotten off work at about 11 o'clock, and me and my daughter were up a little later than usual. We were up watching tv and eating some candy from Halloween. We were pretty much in bed. We should have been asleep but thank god we weren't," Cody Lucas of Greenwood, SC, remembers the night that changed his life.
Cody and his family were devastated to watch their home burn in late October. The Red Cross Upstate SC Chapter responded to the fire the same night.
"The lights started flickering in the bedroom, so I got up to check the switch. I flipped it a couple of times, and the light went completely out," Cody describes the events that led to the discovery of raging fire. "I went through the house towards the kitchen towards the breaker box, and the kitchen was engulfed in flames. I started screaming 'fire, fire, fire,' and quickly got everybody out of the house."
After Cody and his family escaped the fire, his three-year-old daughter, Danielle, was distraught as their pets were still inside the home. Cody reentered the structure and found the family's dog hiding under the coffee table and another pet in a kennel. Cody was able to get the animals out of the home safely but was unfortunately injured when a light fixture fell from the ceiling and badly burned his arm from wrist to shoulder.
"What didn't get burned smells like smoke, is covered in black soot or is soaking wet, or all three. So we lost everything. When the Red Cross came, they helped us out with some toiletries and gave me money that same night," Cody described how the Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteers worked quickly to help meet the family's immediate needs. "One of the gentlemen had a toy that he gave my daughter because she lost everything she played with. He gave her a Mickey Mouse, which made her happy that evening."
Home fires are the most frequent disaster in our state, and The American Red Cross of South Carolina responds to six home fires daily on average. The South Carolina Region provides direct financial assistance to over 1,500 families impacted by home fires each year. This assistance offers immediate financial support so these families can purchase food, shelter, and other essential items.
"We were able to get clothes and shoes and all that. All the small stuff that you take for granted, we were able to get that with the money that the Red Cross gave us," Cody describes what the financial assistance the Red Cross provided meant for his family. "One of the first things I did was go out and buy shoes for my daughter and me because we were barefoot after the fire. The Red Cross did help significantly; I was very appreciative that they came."
In addition to immediate assistance, the Red Cross also offers referrals for much-needed services such as Disaster Mental Health and Health Services. The Red Cross of South Carolina was able to help Cody fill a prescription he needed to treat his burn injury.
"As for my daughter and me, we're doing OK. We're alive. We don't have any beds, things like that. For the most part, we have everything we need," said Cody of his gratitude that the fire didn't end in tragedy. "We have food. We have water, and we have a house. She has clothes to wear. She has two or three different shoes to pick from. We have jackets."
Unfortunately, 40% of Americans don't have $400 to get through an emergency. Last year alone, the South Carolina Region of the American Red Cross spent more than $1,000,000 assisting families impacted by home fires. You can help people like the Lucas family recover from devastating home fires. Help families get back on their feet by giving the gift of hope – donate today: redcross.org/donate.