On November 19, Verice Carter was at work in the University District when her neighbor called and said her house was on fire. Verice thought it was a joke.
“I looked at my boss and said, ‘I guess my house is on fire,’” Verice said. “It was no big deal – I didn’t believe her.”
She called her neighbor back and that was when she heard sirens in the background. Verice realized it wasn’t a joke and hurried home as fast as she could.
When Verice reached the duplex where she lived with her father and daughter, she saw fire trucks with their lights flashing. The big window in the front of her duplex was busted out and her landlord was out in the street talking to firemen.
Luckily, nobody was in the house when the fire happened. Verice’s neighbor saw the roof of the duplex on fire and kicked in the back door to make sure nobody was in the house.
“It was very dramatic,” Verice recalled. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
While the Seattle Fire Department was finishing its job, the American Red Cross arrived at the scene.
“I didn’t know anything about the Red Cross,” Verice said. “I was in shock looking at my house burn down. But the Red Cross showed up.”
The duplex was no longer livable and the Carters had nowhere else to go. Seattle Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers gave Verice a hotel voucher for three days.
“It wasn’t home, but the hotel was comfortable,” Verice said. “I was so happy the Red Cross was able to help so much.”
With assistance from the Red Cross, Verice was able to hit the ground running and began her recovery process just days after the fire. A client caseworker spoke with her boss and sent a letter to her workplace to verify her absence from work while she looked for a new home.
A week after the fire she found a new place and went back to work. Verice’s daughter is in a new school and they are very happy in their new home.
“We’re so thankful. The Red Cross helped out with so much: food, clothes, gas, shelter, they helped get me into my new place. It was needed and very much appreciated,” Verice said. “The Red Cross is here for a reason. I never thought my family would need them, but they were there.”
On average, the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties responds to an emergency like this every other day. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free of charge. For more information about the local Red Cross, call 206.323.2345 or visit http://www.redcross.org/wa/seattle.