Author Topic: Neighbor's House Burned Down  (Read 6063 times)

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sarahe

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Neighbor's House Burned Down
« on: August 24, 2010, 11:23:22 PM »
My neighbors' house (4 doors up) caught fire today. It's still standing, but from what's remaining, I'd guess the whole thing probably has to be torn down and completely rebuilt. Two of their three dogs died in the fire (the owners weren't home when it happened).

I don't know these neighbors at all - we talked once for about 5 minutes when I was outside with my son and they were walking the dogs; this was probably 10+ months ago. I've always been in the habit of bring food and/or sending a condolence card when someone I know has family/friend die, but this seems a different kind of situation. First, since the house is unlivable, I assume they'll be in a hotel (or possibly staying with family), so bringing by food for them to just heat up doesn't seem like it would be helpful. I'm considering something like a "Sorry for your loss" card (mostly the dogs, although technically they lost the house, too) to drop in their mailbox, but again, I don't know them so I'm not sure how appropriate it would be.

So to anyone who's been in this situation before (or knows someone that has), what kinds of things (either written in a card or something physical to give) are appropriate for someone who's lost a house and pets?

johelenc1

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2010, 11:30:49 PM »
Gift cards - if you want to give something.  If they lost everything, and even if they didn't they will have to wait for everything to be cleaned from the smoke, they will need some basic new things.  A card for somewhere to eat would also be good, since as you said they may be eating out.

My inlaws house caught on fire and fortunately their insurance got them into an apartment very quickly.  But, their immediate needs were met by the Red Cross.  They got them a hotel for a few days and gave them gift cards for the immediate essentials of clothes and toothbrushes.  The Red Cross should have shown up, but you never know, so I personally would add something in my card that you are aware that the Red Cross can offer assistance and in case they haven't heard from them they should call and ask.

Calypso

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2010, 11:50:51 PM »
A gift card would be very kind, but even just a sympathy card would be a wonderful thing---I know if I were in that situation, to hear kind thoughts from a heretofore not-well-known neighbor would brighten my day. To have someone sympathize for the loss of beloved pets---you're contemplating an act of grace. Bless you.


Slartibartfast

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2010, 02:08:18 AM »
I had this happen to a very good friend - he lost his house and three of his dogs.  He was also getting married the next week - lost the dress, the ring, and his suit.  They still got married, they rebuilt the house, and it turned out okay.

So . . . I gave him some extra gift cards I had lying around, for places I don't normally shop (Bed, Bath, & Beyond, Wal-Mart) but they would probably need to use to restock.  And my friend later mentioned that when his company gave him a free company t-shirt the next day, they literally doubled the size of his wardrobe  :-\

Rosey

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2010, 07:37:43 AM »
I agree with gift cards. Also, if you know of any local organizations that might be willing to help out (church/Red Cross/local charity), you might want to contact them on behalf of your neighbors.

I hate to hijack, but do you know if they had a doggy door? Slartibartfast, what about your friend? I ask because we try to comfort ourselves with the idea that our dogs could get out of the house through the doggy door if it ever caught on fire, but I just don't know if that's a reasonable expectation.  :(

whiterose

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2010, 07:46:10 AM »
When a colleague's apartment burned down, we were encouraged to give her gift cards. I gave her one to Target (a big department store in the USA that sells everything). Other good ones include to stores that sell clothing/underwear, as well as to supermarkets.

So I agree with everyone who has said gift cards.
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mich3554

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2010, 08:24:37 AM »
Other good ones include to stores that sell clothing/underwear, as well as to supermarkets.

Supermarkets may not be so useful.  When my brother's house caught fire, his insurance company moved them to a hotel for about 6 weeks while they did repairs and cleaned it up.  He had a small fridge in his hotel room, but no way to cook anything, so most meals were eaten at restaurants.  Gift cards to restaurants would probably be better IMO.

Ambrosia Hino

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2010, 08:36:14 AM »
We've had some instances at work where someone or one of their family members/neighbors had their house burn down, & they were running a collection for them.

Clothing donations & gift cards for restaurants, big-box stores, & supermarkets were all welcomed. The supermarket cards may not be as immediately useful (depends on if their hotel is extended-stay with a kitchenette or not) but being able to restock later was part of the thought.

The last person I knew personally that had their home burn down was in high school...she lived in an apartment 2 blocks away from me, our first names were similar (Amber & April) and we shared a last name (I want to say middle name as well, but not sure).  She was the only person I've ever seen get away with coming to school in super-short cutoffs & a Budweiser t-shirt (apartment caught fire a week before school started).  I was in the middle of packing to move to another state, so I don't know how that all played out. I do know I offered to let her raid my closet for any outgrown clothes, but she was enough smaller than me, that I didn't have much to offer (I'd already purged that size range).

Namárië

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2010, 09:07:21 AM »
My best friend's apartment burned down—she was able to recover a lot, but for a while she didn't have access to her apartment. So I definitely agree with the restaurant and clothing/department store (like Target) gift card recommendations. Red Cross helps, but getting your life back together after a fire is very expensive.

I also think a sympathy card would be very sweet.
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ACBNYC

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2010, 09:28:16 AM »
If you do get them a gift card, another idea is a prepaid Visa, Mastercard, or American Express--that way they can decide how to spend it, whether at a restaurant or for clothes/toiletries.

It's sweet of you to think of them.

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2010, 10:06:23 AM »
I think a sympathy card is just fine.

If you're interested in doing something else, the giftcards are great, or put together a toiletry basket yourself.  If I were in that situation, I might buy toothbrushes and toothpaste with the gift cards, but would forgo other non-essential essentials, like deoderant or my really good moisturizer, you know? 
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Slartibartfast

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2010, 10:36:04 AM »
I agree with gift cards. Also, if you know of any local organizations that might be willing to help out (church/Red Cross/local charity), you might want to contact them on behalf of your neighbors.

I hate to hijack, but do you know if they had a doggy door? Slartibartfast, what about your friend? I ask because we try to comfort ourselves with the idea that our dogs could get out of the house through the doggy door if it ever caught on fire, but I just don't know if that's a reasonable expectation.  :(

In my friend's case, there was not a dog door, but one of the three dogs who died in the fire had already clawed/chewed a chunk of the door away (pit bull when he was a puppy).  So my friend's fourth dog - a puppy at the time - was able to get to the door and get his nose through and breathe fresh air, and it was his barking that alerted the neighbors to call 911.  (It was 2 AM but my friend wasn't home because he works third shift.)

Unfortunately, two of the three dogs who perished in the fire were some really fantastic search-and-rescue dogs  :'(  And even though the puppy survived, his nose and lungs were singed enough that he will probably never be able to smell properly - so my friend is training him, but we don't know whether he will ever be able to do search and rescue.

WillyNilly

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2010, 10:56:22 AM »
I agree with others on gift cards.

I also absolutely think a sympathy or thinking of you type card is appropriate.

You know what else might be really touching - look through all your photos (and maybe round up other neighbors to do the same) and see if you have any of your neighbor or his dogs.  Perhaps you had a street party or they are in the background of some of your personal pictures, etc.  Loosing everything includes photo albums and other memorabilia.  In this day and age, the neighbors might have lots of pictures saved online, but they probably lost a lot too.  Getting an album, or even just a stack of pictures is a very personal way to help them start rebuilding.

sarahe

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2010, 11:15:41 AM »
I agree with gift cards. Also, if you know of any local organizations that might be willing to help out (church/Red Cross/local charity), you might want to contact them on behalf of your neighbors.

I hate to hijack, but do you know if they had a doggy door? Slartibartfast, what about your friend? I ask because we try to comfort ourselves with the idea that our dogs could get out of the house through the doggy door if it ever caught on fire, but I just don't know if that's a reasonable expectation.  :(

I assume that they had a doggy door, as the surviving dog was found in the backyard. Of the two that didn't make it, one was found next to the front door and the other was in a back bedroom. Based on where the fire started, and how quickly it spread (my next door neighbor who witnessed it said there was something like a fireball that destroyed the garage door), I don't think the two that died would have even had time to get to the doggy door. So yes, the doggy door probably saved the one that was able to get to it in time.

Shores

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Re: Neighbor's House Burned Down
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2010, 11:27:28 AM »
My apartment burnt down 7 years ago. My best friend and I lost our cats and everything we owned. Unbelievably sucky time. The PPs are spot on though. Gift cards are very helpful, cards of support are very nice, although I would have lost it at a "sorry for your loss" card. BFF and I lived in happy little denial-land about our beloved cats for weeks.
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