ROCHESTER, New Hampshire (NEWS CENTER) — You see stories about fires on the news all the time, but what you don’t typically see is the aftermath.
The emotional and financial toll a fire can have on a person, especially for someone who has lost everything they owned. Agencies such as the American Red Cross are there to help out initially, but that help only goes so far.
“The whole bedroom was up in flames, like we didn’t have time for anything”, said Megan Robichaud.
It did not take long for the flames that swept through her mobile home to take everything she owned.
“It was devastating, it was terrible. I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where we were going to go. I didn’t have shoes on, he didn’t have shoes on”, said Robichaud.
It’s a tough situation firefighters see all too often.
“People go from close to having nothing and struggling with everyday life and then have a fire that’s devastating and they lose everything they worked very hard to get and having no place to go”, said Rochester Firefighter Paul Haggenmiller.
The fire back in April happened just a few weeks after Robichaud celebrated her son Jaydin’s fifth birthday. Among the rubble was the brand new bike she had just bought him. She could see the toll the fire was taking on him.
“I don’t know, it affected him in like a negative way. I think it really traumatized him a lot”, she said.
To help lift their spirits Rochester firefighters invited Megan and Jaydin down to the station for a surprise. It included a spin around town in a fire truck. And a visit to the department’s Toy Bank where they just happened to have a brand new bike, among other gifts, for Jaydin.
“Kind of helps them forget what just happened. Fires are very traumatic and any time we can help out it’s a great thing”, said Haggenmiller.
It was just what mom and son needed.
“I was happy that he was happy, because I hadn’t seen him smile like that in a while”, said Robichaud.
While the trip to the fire station was a nice distraction, Robichaud continues to struggle with the reality of rebuilding her life after the fire. After some initial help from the Red Cross, she found there’s not much assistance after that to help on her road to recovery.
“We couldn’t get anything rebuilt, we couldn’t get our belongings back. We didn’t have insurance and that just meant you’re going to have to build up your life all over again”, she said.
After spending some time living in a tent on friend’s property in Maine, Robichaud has found an apartment for her and her son.
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