‘When the fire happened, all I thought about was my old stuff; the family history in there. All my father’s books were all damaged.’
“The fire happened on the morning of March 29. I had been feeding cats in the backyard and some had kittens. I let some in the house. I was able to get a mother cat and three kittens out because they were close to the door. A police officer saved two more kittens and a cat.
“There were four adult cats and five young cats that perished in the fire. There are still cats outside and we go to the house every single day to feed them. Some people gave me shelter, bedding and cat food and I worked with a rescue place that spayed and neutered them. Things like that show you people’s humanity to help you in times that are difficult.
“I’ve lived in this house all my life because it was my parent’s house. I’m 61, I was born in Bay Shore, my roots are in this community. My father served during WWII and was in active combat duty. When he enlisted, he was already a husband and father of two. He used to write my mother many letters. He was very descriptive, so they would censor the letters in case they fell into enemy hands. When the fire happened, all I thought about was my old stuff; the family history in there. All my father’s books were all damaged.
I looked inside the desk, sure enough, there was the box of my mother’s letters. It wasn’t touched by fire or water. That has brought me some comfort; some hope that we’re going to get through this.
“We had two very old pictures in decorative frames of my great grandmother and great grandfather, and that’s gone, those you can’t replace. The floor collapsed in two of the rooms, so I still haven’t been able to find things. I had an old secretary desk. It has a bookcase on top. It had the panel that opens up. We saw it in the room; it was blown to pieces because of the water pressure. But I looked inside the desk, sure enough, there was the box of my mother’s letters. It wasn’t touched by fire or water. That has brought me some comfort; some hope that we’re going to get through this.
“I just want to be able to do something with the house and be able to reconstruct and continue living in my community. I’ve had four contractors come to the house, and all of them said this house doesn’t have to be knocked down, but we will have to gut the whole house. They’re the experts and they’re saying they can do it. I’m still very hopeful.”
Interviewed by Rachel O’Brien – Morano