In 10 minutes, your life can turn upside down.

By: Michelle Palansky, communications advisor
 
It was the beginning of summer, June 16, 2021. Elizabeth Hallett and her family had just returned to their home in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, after a trip to the lake.
 
A photo of a family of six
Back: Ethan Hallett (son) Tamica Hallett (daughter) middle: Elizabeth Hallett (mom) Jesse Sr Roberts (dad) bottom: Jesse Jr Roberts (youngest son) Liam Hallett (son) 
All four kids, the dog, Elizabeth, and her husband decided to have a big sleepover in the living room.
 
In the morning, they awoke to a monstrous storm of hard rain and hail. They could see the neighbour’s trees bending with the gusting winds. Their living room window looked like it was heaving. Then, the power went out.
 
For safety, Elizabeth moved the kids to the basement.
 
“The kids were downstairs, and me and my husband were standing upstairs, monitoring the storm. All of a sudden, we saw a red flash,” Elizabeth recalls. “I saw that the top part of my spruce tree came down and ripped our power cord right out of the wall that was attached to our house. Our smoke detectors started going off and I assumed they were going off because the power was trying to kick back in.”
 
But the power outage was not what set off the smoke detectors.
 
“If it wasn't for my neighbor banging on my door saying, ‘Liz, your house is on fire!’, I don't know what would have happened.”
 
A fire had started at the peak of their house.
 
Elizabeth quickly got all four children and their dog safely out of the house and into their van, and then moved the van across the street so that it, too, would not catch fire.
 
The fire department arrived right away. They had to cut open the top of the roof to fight the fire. It was then that they determined that a lightning strike had started the fire.
 
As the fire department went to work to contain the flames, Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked around at the shocking scene that has so rapidly unfolded.
 
“It was a 10-minute storm and then it was sunny again. There were trees down everywhere. It's incredible what can happen in the span of 10 minutes - your entire life can be completely up-ended,” she says.
A woman in a Red Cross vest sitting at a desk, smiling
   Gwen Pearce, emergency management coordinator, Prince Albert, SK.
 
One of the police officers on the scene offered to put Elizabeth in touch with the Canadian Red Cross. Within 20 minutes, she was speaking with Gwen Pearce, a member of the Red Cross Personal Disaster Assistance Team (PDAT) in Prince Albert.
 
By that afternoon, the Red Cross had arranged for a three-day hotel stay for the family along with hygiene kits, teddy bears and goodie bags for the kids, and a Mastercard for incidentals.
 
“I want to thank everybody who helped us get through this,” Elizabeth adds. “I really didn't expect all the support. When you go through something like this, you would be amazed how many people step up and help. I want to send out thank you cards to people who helped, but I don't even know half the people that helped us. Where do I start? Well, I'll start right here with you. I'm so ever thankful for every donation.”
 
Elizabeth expressed her gratitude for the work the Canadian Red Cross does in her community.

“A lot of people think that the Red Cross is just international, like when a hurricane hits across the world, but they really do help local people like me,” she explains.
 
When personal disasters strike, the Canadian Red Cross provides food, shelter, clothing, and essential supplies for up to 72 hours. If you have been affected by a personal disaster and require assistance, contact us at 1-888-800-6493.

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