Monday, December 6, 2010

“I never expected so much help in so little time.”

Walter and Diane Gomez and daughter Laura
As they were preparing for bed one Sunday night, Walter Gomez and his wife Diana smelled something burning. Ducking onto the balcony of their second floor Queens apartment, Walter was chilled to see smoke pouring from the apartment above. He quickly called 911, and told Diana to grab their daughter Laura and get out of the apartment. As his family raced downstairs to safety, Walter raced upstairs to the top floor apartment, which was enveloped in thick smoke. There he was met by another neighbor carrying a fire extinguisher who began to try to damp down the flames. (The people who lived in the fire apartment had already fled the building.)

Soon, Walter and his neighbor heard sirens and knew that firefighters would arrive shortly. Before they ran outside, they made one final check to make sure everyone had made it out of the building okay. Walter, a veteran of the first Gulf War who works in Operations at JPMorgan Chase, credits his attempts to save the third floor apartment to his U.S. Army service. “Instead of running out, we did what came naturally to us,” he said of himself and his neighbor, whom he called “a very proactive individual.”

Once the fire was extinguished, Red Cross responders at the scene started the Gomez family back on the road to recovery. “They went into the building with us and assessed the damage,” said Walter. “They explained what services they offered and provided us with food and financial assistance on the spot.”

At New York Red Cross headquarters in Manhattan a few days later, Walter and his family received further emergency services, including referrals to other agencies and arrangements for counseling. “You know that the Red Cross is there,” he said, “but you don’t know how much of a difference they make until you really need them. I’m surprised and overwhelmed. I never expected so much help in so little time.”

Walter, Diane and Laura Gomez, Glendale, NY

1 comment:

  1. Hello, this is Laura Gomez. I am currently 12 years old, and I just wanted to tell the Red Cross that my family and I really appreciate the help that came to us. The impact that this had on me was so strong, that, to this day, if I hear the sirens of a fire engine, I will either burst into tears or become a nervous wreck. Thank you so much for coming to our rescue. I remember the day that my parents went to one of the Red Cross headquarters for a speech, and at the end, I said, "God bless the Red Cross". Thank you.


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