The Things that Bring Community Together

Last night an event brought our community together in a way that is terrible and sad. Dozens of us gathered on Mary Street in the Bridge Valley development of Mount Joy to watch helplessly as our gracious firefighters from communities all around us tried to put out a blaze in a home down the street from us. As is the norm, rumors spread quickly about who, what and why. We all knew one thing: we had heard a terrible explosion and were worried about our neighbors.

This morning we found out that an elderly woman passed away in the fire. She was unable to be saved after an initial sweep did not find her and the firefighters were forced to evacuate the building due to the heavy fire load. Reports indicate that 7 adults and 8 children are being cared for the by American Red Cross here in Lancaster.

I think all of us standing there felt torn – nothing we could do, no way we could help in that instant. Wishing our firefighters safety and the people impacted to be OK. The most devastating part of the night was when a young man came running down the street straight into the home. The firefighters pulled him out and he collapsed sobbing on the lawn outside the home. We understand that his mother is the one who passed away inside. When you see grief so vividly displayed you stop, you pray, you hope the story unfolding in front of you is not as horrible as it seems in that moment.

Yet we all woke up this morning, some drove past the gutted home, and my neighborhood Facebook page has grown with posts of concern and wonder on how they may help. Again, a sad way for our community to come together, yet neat to see how many people come forward to help.

A new neighbor to us, the man standing next to me, mentioned how amazed he was at all the local fire companies that showed up, quickly, last night to assist our West Hempfield firefighters. It makes you proud for the community we do have, that for a night all politics aside, all race is one, and the power of community is displayed in how everyone wants to help.

I spoke with the local Red Cross today and last night they were on scene to provide the family with some immediate financial help. The way their system works is they give them financial assistance right up front for the families to use however they see fit to get assist in getting them back to pre-disaster life. Typically the process of them getting assigned a caseworker and helping them after the disaster takes about 24-48 hours due to the fact that they want to give them time to digest everything that has happened. They will then connect them with community resources to help with housing, clothes, food, etc. I gave her my name/number as a point of contact. It will be up to the families impacted if they reach out to ask for our assistance as their neighbors.
In the meantime, please consider donating to the local red cross here:
If I hear from the family, I will let you know what their needs are. 
It’s amazing what we can do when we stand with our neighbors.

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Comments 1

  1. There has been an out pouring of love from the Pequea Valley community, I told a couple people what had happened to the family, my family and I have had clothes, shoes, blankets dropped off on my doorstep, and possibly a few grocery gift cards soon. I dropped clothes off to the kids yesterday, and a friend a new friend I’m meeting with today with the oldest girl, she is taking her shopping. So far 4 bags of clothes. The community is amazing.

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