The early morning housefire that struck in Merriam Monday has left Lance McCarthy, the owner of ReTouch, which won the Northeast Johnson County Chamber of Commerce’s small business of the year award in November, and his family without a home.
Jamie McCarthy was at the house with her three children and their dog around 6:30 a.m. Monday when fire alarms went off (Lance had left for work). Jamie was able to get all of the children out of the house safely, but the extreme cold posed difficulties for the fire crews responding to the blaze, and the house suffered extensive damage. Lance posted the following message about the incident on his Facebook page:
Jamie and I wanted to get this message out to as many of our circles as possible:
As you may know, we had a fire in our house early Monday morning. It started at about 6:30 after I had gone to work. The smoke detectors went off, and Jamie was able to wake up and get the kids out of the house and over to a neighbors. They were barefoot in pajamas, but unharmed. I rushed home from work, but was beat by the amazing crew of firefighters who worked in bitter cold to stop the fire before it completely destroyed the house. They saved our dog India, who was unconscious when found but revived after being given oxygen.
Since then it has been a dizzying process of relocating, emailing, texting and parenting. Fortunately, insurance has been very responsive, and has us temporarily in a very nice hotel. We will move to more permanent housing in the next week before starting the 4-6 month process of rebuilding the house.
We have been truly humbled by the overwhelming response from friends, family and even perfect strangers. Literally hundreds of emails, texts, phone calls and facebook messages have wrapped us in a blanket of reassurance that has been comforting in a way that is hard to describe.
I’m sure the scope of our situation will become more clear to us as the days unfold, but here are a few thoughts we have taken from it so far…
- Everyone got out in one piece, which makes everything else a lot less important.
- We are homeless, but have discovered that we actually have countless houses, wardrobes, and kitchens through our relationships
- Smoke detectors actually do save lives
- A home is as essential to a normal life as regular meals and family. I never realized how much so.
I came across an article about another fire in an apartment building in Kansas City’s inner city the same day as ours. I have become bitterly aware of how vulnerable we actually are. Without good home insurance (a luxury for many) and a wealth of relationships in our community (something that others may not have), our story would sound very different. This process has been difficult for us, but I can’t imagine what it is like for someone who doesn’t have those resources. I hope I never forget how lucky we are. Thank you for your love and selfless generosity. We feel so honored and unworthy of friendships with all of you who would offer so much so freely.
P.S. We are looking for a rental property in Northeast Johnson County that we could stay in for approx. 6 months. Insurance will pay for this, and we would like to stay near school and work. If you know of a place that would handle a 5-person family, please send us some information.
We will try to update as our journey unfolds. In the meantime, thank you for your thousands of expressions of love. They continue to hold us up.
Jonathan and Erin Arnold, family friends of the McCarthys, have offered to serve as the “hub” for offers of assistance to the family. They can be reached at erinarnold232 [at] gmail.com.