Even when fire ravaged her recently renovated home, Saskatchewan resident Brenda Lyons didn’t think she needed support, initially declining Red Cross assistance; however, she discovered support was just what she needed to get her and her family through the long journey of recovery.
Last March, Brenda’s husband called her at work to say their century home, in the final stage of its renovation, had caught fire and firefighters were hosing down the flames to save their home. She recalls the emotion she felt as she reached her flame-engulfed home.
“To see your house on fire, to see smoke coming out of your home of 15 years, where you raised your kids, is an emotional experience,” recalled Brenda. “I have friends and family to support me so I didn’t feel like I needed assistance. But as soon as Red Cross came, I felt so blessed that there was someone to walk me through the steps.”
Pam Dechief, a Canadian Red Cross volunteer since 2006, and Brenda Lyons outside her renovated home: "Pam and I had been friends before but when I saw her running up to my house in her red vest, it was another emotional moment for me."
With a fire that started in the upstairs bathroom before reaching the attic, the ensuing water damage meant the Lyons family would likely not be able to move back home for a year.
“I have done a lot of things in my life where I feel like I can handle things on my own but, in this case, I didn’t have to,” added Brenda.
“But I had to allow people to help me, and that was a huge learning for me. Red Cross took charge to make sure everything was looked after for the next couple days."
"Just because you have others doing things for you, doesn’t make you less strong – you have to know where your capabilities are. With the [Red Cross] volunteer in place, we followed the process and, that night, I could relax at the hotel because I knew things were taken care of.”
The Lyons recently moved back into their historic house, built in 1912, one day short of a year living away from their beloved home.
“We were told early by our insurer that it would be a year-long process and we should plan to be displaced for a year,” said Brenda. “In my head, I thought it’s just water, as the majority of fire was in the attic, but water can do a lot of damage. I’m glad we were mentally prepared for that.”
Now that the family is finally settled back into their home, Brenda said the care received from the community, including firefighters, police, and volunteers, helped them through to recovery.
“You hear all the time of this happening to others but you never think it’s going to be you,” noted Brenda. “You’re shocked it’s you. But as bad as sometimes things seem, there’s always a light at the end of a tunnel.”