What If…?

3/13/08 15:49

No disrespect to anyone affected by last night’s devastating fire, I still can’t believe that I slept through it all. I suppose the happy hour drinks contributed to that. The pictures I saw online were just amazing, I can’t possibly know what it felt like to watch your home completely destroyed by fire. A friend called me last night, co-workers called and texted me this morning, and all the while I was totally unaware of anything happening. I feel pretty stupid for grousing about having no water pressure in the shower this morning.

All day at work I was reading up on the story as any new information came in, but there wasn’t a whole lot they could tell, the investigation is still ongoing. I’m sure there are many likely candidates for blame, but most likely the building was old and in need of major repair that for whatever reason hadn’t been done.

I got home from work today and I was doing some chatting online and looking up info on clothing donations when the fire alarm goes off. Normally, I have to admit, my building residents ignore the alarm. It’s gone off so many time as a false alarm that it’s habit. Not a good habit, I know, but what can you do? Well today you could hear doors slamming and people talking in the stairwell. I grabbed my coat, bag and phone and headed outside praying that it was a prank or something. All the residents were sort of milling around in the driveway and the emergency personnel were doing their jobs and didn’t have a lot of info for us at first. We didn’t see any smoke from the building and our elderly residents were making it out ok, so it seemed like everything was ok. Still, you never know.

I started taking pictures because it was easier than thinking about the “what if?” What if it’s for real? What if we’re about to lose our property or our home? What if the clothes on my back are all I’ve got now? I feel a bit foolish and guilty for thinking of myself in that situation when a block north of us all those residents really do have nothing. I guess you never can be prepared for something like that, but it’s not like you can pack your whole apartment on your back and take it out with you. Most of us didn’t even think, we just walked out with our keys and phones. I mentioned how polite but aloof some residents are, but we were all bonding this afternoon. Once it was over, we all sorta broke the virtual group hug and returned to our apartments. We’re lucky, but what if…?

Neighbors’ Consejo, a NPO in Mount Pleasant, is accepting food and clothing for the victims of the fire. The agency is located at 3118 16th St. NW, (202) 234-6855. It will be open and accepting donations until midnight. Items requested include nonperishable food; clothing and shoes for men and women; baby and toddler clothes and shoes; toys; and items for babies, such as formula, strollers and cribs.

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2 Responses

  1. vincent says:

    A housefire is one my greatest fears. It’s not so much losing everying (been there, done that, got the ‘I survived katrina’ t-shirt) but rather the speed and terrifying nature of the blaze. A house near my apartment in columbia heights caught fire a few weeks after I moved here and I was only able to find one of my two cats.. The other was found several hours later inside one of the laudryroom wall; she was meowing like a cat stuck in a wall. The experience tapped into my biggest nightmare. As you said, what if?? I hope we don’t find out.

  2. Michael says:

    Yeah, there’s really nothing so upsetting and generally “icky” as watching your house burn. I’ve been through it twice now (once when I was a kid and again this last August), and I could cheerfully not ever go through it again.

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