Howto: rebuild my life & home after a disaster?
November 30, 2010 6:26 AM   Subscribe

I lost pretty much everything I own when my apartment building burned down about a week ago. I had been putting most of my energy & time into job search. Now I've had to take a big step backwards & deal with some basic problems involving recovering from a disaster & rebuilding my life from scratch. That's where I'm turning to you, the Hive. I'm looking for ideas, tips, stories & practical suggestions for starting over after you've lost everything in a disaster. I'm somewhat at a loss & anything you can do to make this process easier would be greatly appreciated.
posted by scalefree to Human Relations (31 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Although this has never happened to me (or anyone I know), I think good advice would be to accept offers of help that anyone gives you. It seems to be human nature to think we can or should be able to manage everything on our own, and to turn down such offers. And don't hesitate to come out and ask family/friends for what you need. I think you will be amazed at what people are willing to do for others which will help you as you get back on your feet (both physically and emotionally).
posted by maxg94 at 6:37 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: From the Guardian: I lost everything I owned.
posted by oliverburkeman at 6:43 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

This happened to me when I was 18 years old. I lost all my childhood mementos, all my clothes except what I was wearing the day it happened. I'm so sorry this happened to you. The aftermath, for me, was that I lost my attachment to physical things. My "stuff" never again held an emotional pull for me. I believe now this is a good thing. I was never very consumer oriented afterwards, it really knocked down any materialistic attitudes I had. Ever since then, I've tried to move through life without carrying a lot of baggage, both physically and emotionally. You can get to the place where you feel more free and unfettered by your possessions, and this is a (drastic!) way to do that. Only replace what you really need, and try to feel the freedom that comes with traveling lightly through this phase of your life.
posted by raisingsand at 6:43 AM on November 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

1)Verify if there is any applicable insurance coverage--owners or apartment owners.
2) Make an inventory of any losses
3) Secure identification necessary for legal identification--Birth Certificate, Pass Part, SSN, Driver's License etc.
4) Secure copies of important financial documents where possible--last several years income tax filings (fed and state), recent bank. investment, savings, retirement accounts etc--if these are on line make a hard copy of recent statements.
5) Make sure any utilities you paid are notified
6) Notify relevant parties of any change of address--perhaps a PO Box
7) Get copies of any relevant health insurance coverage.
I have to go now--I am sure there will be many excellent suggestion
Very sorry you had to experience this--best wishes
posted by rmhsinc at 6:43 AM on November 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

I so hope you had content insurance [reminds self to remind her own new tenant to get content insurance]. If so your first call should be to your insurer. I also hope that you have a job and were just searching for a better one.

If you have no contents insurance and no job... yikes. In that case, turn to family and friends and social assistance programs. I'd start by researching whatever resources are available, and making sure I made full use of them. The article you link to mentions that the Red Cross was assisting the former residence of your building. Definitely go to them and see what kind of help they'll give you.
posted by orange swan at 6:47 AM on November 30, 2010

This happened to me last January, and while I didn't lose everything, I lost most of it. Fortunately, I had insurance, so there were no worries financially. Still, there was a lot of stress. I spent a couple weeks in a terrible extended stay motel, which really motivated me to find a new place. I started from scratch, sleeping in a sleeping bag, and gradually filling up the place with furniture. It was a bad experience, but nothing earth shattering. In the end, the only material things I missed were my books. I own a lot less stuff now, and it's simplified my life greatly. And yes, if you haven't talked with the Red Cross, do it. They ended up giving me $300, which was kind of a lifesaver when I needed to go out and get a pair of jeans, a shirt a jacket and food in the aftermath of the fire. Best of luck.
posted by dortmunder at 7:02 AM on November 30, 2010

I came into this thread bursting in my inexperience in this area and desire to share basically what the article linked above from the Guardian already did, in so many words:

You have a new lease on life.

I don't say this to belittle your multiple and magnified woes in this experience - frankly that you're able to state the question as clearly as you can right now speaks to the fact that you're doing as well as can be expected in a very difficult time.

But far too many of us have far too many things. I know I do. I've been working over the past 5 years or so of my life to dramatically reduce the amount of "stuff" in my life, and I speak from experience at least in this regard: every great downsizing I have done has brought only relief and a greater sense of freedom. There is not one thing I look back at and think - at least for functional purposes - "damn, I wish I had kept that." Perhaps the occasional small sentimental item is thought of in that regard, but that's getting less and less so as time goes by.

So, I suppose I came to say this: accumulate less stuff this time around, and should you find yourself in a similar situation in the years to come - your loss will that time be less.

At the very least, remember this: when you go, you can't take one iota of it with you. Life is to be found in giving rather than getting (that said, listen to the good advice above about accepting help to get back to some semblance of normal).

I'm glad you survived this experience.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:04 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost everything except the clothes I was wearing on Christmas Eve to a house fire 20 years ago and it is a very confusing experience. What helped me start over was:

- accepting the help others offered - as max94 suggests.

- talking to people - I think fires like this happen much more than we want to think. After my fire I found many others who had experienced a similar trauma. The conversations and quick bonds I made with them were very therapeutic.

- taking it all one. day. at. a. time. And when that was too hard I broke it down to one hour at a time. I let myself grieve because it is a huge loss.

In retrospect I wish I would have been better at:

- not listening to people who said insensitive weird stuff. People are clueless to what you're dealing with often unfortunately. I wish I had been better at ignoring their ignorance, shrugged their comments off and just moved forward with my needs.

- recognizing the liberation that was going on. When I think back to the fire now - decades later - I am thankful for the freedom it granted me. I was able to start fresh in so many wonderful ways. I did not have a bunch of stuff tied to me. Yes it sucks to loose the things you own, but those things can be replaced and they will be. It hurts now because it's so raw but you may experience a similar sense of liberty that I did. From your things. From the stuff that you kept in your life. That you felt defined you in some way. The slate is clear.

Saying that, do know that I am truly sorry for your loss. I wish you the best of luck. Hang in there. My heart goes out to you.

Oh and one last thing - every once in a while check your State's Unclaimed Property lists. I found some money on there over the years from documents that burned in the fire and refunds that were issued to me at that old address.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:07 AM on November 30, 2010 [7 favorites]

Not even close to the same thing, but when I was laid off (four children, three special needs, with an alzheimer's elder to care for as well) I was devastated. My priest told me that the thing I needed to do was to lean on my community. Pride was a sin I could especially not afford.

I hope that your personal beliefs do not prevent you from seeking a ready-made network that can be found in a church community. I'm not just talking social service assistance but emotional and spiritual support as well. Finding yourself suddenly with little or nothing can actually be a liberating experience, but you need help and companionship dealing with grief, fear, insecurity, and (if any) guilt so you can get through to the hidden blessings.

Regardless of what you believe about God, there are Christians (and other faithful) out there who understand that God is made evident in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy -- Love in concrete action.

As a foster parent for ten years, I learned that it is actually a ministry to others to accept help from them and to allow myself to be dependent on the help of others for a time.

This is just a season. I hope and pray that you fully recover and grow stronger from this tragic setback.
posted by cross_impact at 7:10 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

The aftermath, for me, was that I lost my attachment to physical things. My "stuff" never again held an emotional pull for me.

I lost the vast majority of my personal possessions in a dorm fire when I was in college. (My parents had moved several times in the previous few years, so I kept "my" stuff with me.)

The above quote applies to me, as well, though 17 years later I'm starting to recover some attachment to "stuff".

Practical suggestions: you're going to need "containers" for the stuff you do not have yet, but are going to acquire shortly. I remember my mother forcing me to buy clothes hangers, though I didn't have clothes yet. You need places for your clothes and papers and toiletries and small things, especially because you're likely to be displaced for a while.

I don't know the degree of destruction; I think this particular advice will be irrelevant, but: my university put me back in the same room after they'd "rehabbed" it. That was enormously psychologically destructive. Don't do that.

Please be kind to yourself. I went into a severe depression after the fire. It's a traumatic experience, and the prevalent anti-consumerist attitude that "it's just stuff" can be difficult to deal with when you don't have a toothbrush to your name.
posted by endless_forms at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: I'm really sorry to hear about this. rmhsinc said all my most immediate suggestions. The Red Cross is baller--nthing talking to them if you haven't.

As a firefighter, I've unfortunately seen many people go through this. Like everyone else has said, the ones that come through it strongest have a strong support network, from their family, friends, community, or all three.

If people telling you "it's just stuff" is helpful, run with it. If people telling you "it's just stuff" is destructive, remember that a good many of them have not had to deal with what you have, and even if they did--you don't need to listen to them, now or ever.

I'm local, so MeMail me if you need to borrow some stuff, need a heavy to break some heads with insurance companies, or just feel like talking with someone who will try not to be a self-conscious/insensitive dick about stuff.
posted by skyl1n3 at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2010 [9 favorites]

Best answer: 1) Find somewhere you can stay comfortably, with people that will be kind and supportive and not overly intrusive. Don't stay with your mother if she's going to drive you up the wall. Or move between people if you need.

2) People are going to get weird about it. Try not to take it to heart: they're just uncomfortable because they're thinking about what they'd do if it happened to them.
One of the wisest things I heard during Katrina was a woman explaining to me that I was helping people by accepting their help. They needed to feel better about what had happened, and by accepting their gifts - even if they weren't helpful, or were a little condescending - I was helping them. They were trying to do good, and they needed someone to tell them it was enough.

3) Be honest and up-front about your situation all the time. Ask for help from anyone who might be able to give it. You're going to have to put pride aside, and that sucks.

4) Talk to other people that have lost everything. Talking is important. What you're going through is really awful, and not a lot of people are going to understand. Also, they'll understand any dark humor you develop. The thing that got me through Katrina was the group I evacuated with. We held each other together, and I honestly don't think I could have done it without them. Mail me if you want.

5) Get proof that you lost everything and carry it with you everywhere.

6) Think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and particularly the order they're in. This week, where will your food, shelter, and bathroom be? Are they taken care of? Good, let's move on.

7) Oh my god, let yourself grieve. Let yourself wallow a little if you need. Spend a day NOT worrying about it if you need.

The Red Cross was hugely helpful to us, as were plenty of kind individuals. Find out what exists in your town - how do churches feel about helping non-members? Don't be picky where you get help from. I went back into the closet, and I still think it was the best decision. But have someone you can be yourself around.

You'll get through this and you'll get your life back. It sounds ridiculous now, but you will.
posted by honeydew at 7:40 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm so sorry you've had to go through this. I've never experienced anything even remotely like this, and as I get older I get more and more paranoid this sort of thing.

I can only imagine that it's got to be very important to reclaim a space you can call home. "Home" is kind of a weird concept that means something different to everyone, but aside from just the basic needs (clothes/toothbrush/laptop) that's where I'd focus. It might seem a bit frivolous, but especially as a bit of a nomad for a while I imagine it'd be nice to have something to really define where you live. A fancy rug. A piece of art you love. Some small piece of furniture. Something you can pack up and move around with you fairly easily, but that more or less instantly turns a hotel or someone's spare bedroom into *your* space. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it should be something you can get attached to. With all that you're going through, I suspect a place to rest and recover is just about the most immediate need you have.

Good luck.
posted by pjaust at 7:43 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: Your local freecycle group might be a good source for the kinds of things you just need to get through the next few days/weeks/months, like dishes and silverware and a lamp. If you feel weird about using other people's used stuff, think of it as you're just borrowing those items for a while, and then pay it forward later by donating things to Goodwill once you're back on your feet and can go out and buy what you need.

Good luck to you. I'm sorry this happened.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:00 AM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: OMG!! Scalefree! I hope everything is ok! I have never experienced this before, so I couldn't possibly understand what you're going through, but if I could ever buy you dinner/a beer, please let me know!
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:14 AM on November 30, 2010

(For those interested in helping directly, see this post.)
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:43 AM on November 30, 2010

Regarding insensitive or clueless reactions of intended comfort - my father is a minister so my family were front and center for a lot of personal losses and oh, my, people say some dumb stuff. I think though when people say things like "it's only possessions" what they are mainly trying to say is that hard as the loss is, it doesn't diminish who you are or what your value is: they are trying to affirm that you are the most valuable thing about you. They're just saying it in kind of a stupid way.
posted by nanojath at 9:52 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm very sorry that you are going through this, scalefree.

It's been mentioned already, but yes: Contact the Red Cross. Your local chapter is Southeastern PA, and their Disaster Services number is (215) 299-4889. That is a 24-hour line.

As I've explained in another AskMe or two, I am a Red Cross Disaster Services volunteer. Helping people in your situation is exactly what Disaster Services is set up to do. I obviously cannot promise services, but some of the things they may be able to help you with are funds for shelter, food, clothing, toiletries, and medicine, as well as information and advocacy that will help you through your next steps. Do you know that you can get a fire report that will allow you to cancel services like cable and internet without paying any early termination fees? They do, and they know a great number of other things like that to make this experience more bearable for you as well.

Seriously, call them. They will help you. All assistance is given as a gift and with no expectation of repayment.

Please don't hesitate to MeMail me if you need additional info.
posted by rollbiz at 10:51 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I should've read TFA about the fire. I see that Red Cross was there. Still, even if you've already talked to them, make sure you keep in touch with the caseworkers. They can probably continue to assist you.
posted by rollbiz at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2010

Response by poster: I got assistance from Red Cross on the day of the fire, they put together a staging area for us at a local school complete with food, clothes & even some cash for immediate necessities. But I haven't been in touch with them since then. Thanks for the reminder.
posted by scalefree at 10:57 AM on November 30, 2010

Response by poster: And also thanks for what you & the rest of Red Cross do; it didn't mean a lot to me until I saw it in action. They did what was needed & had their act together when we were at our worst & needed it most.
posted by scalefree at 11:00 AM on November 30, 2010

Two years ago, I had something comparable happen to me. Twice.

I left a relationship, and left all my stuff behind, and started fresh in a big new place. I got myself into credit card debt furnishing it and outfitting it with all the stuff I needed. And then I got robbed, and all my new stuff was stolen. I was uninsured, because when I rented, hell, I didn't have any stuff, and as I accumulated more stuff, it didn't occur to me.

The second time, I got a tiny little apartment, and took my time, did things gradually, got stuff off of Craigslist, and concentrated on keeping things minimal.

I wish I'd skipped the first time altogether. So that's my advice; get a really small place to start with, so you don't need much stuff. Be picky about the new stuff you take in.

Definitely accept peoples' help, but don't feel obligated to accept all of it. When I got burglarized, I ended up with a huge hodgepodge of peoples' unwanted kitchen items that were totally unnecessary to me. Much more trouble than it was worth, especially at that point in my life.

I was working full-time and going to college full-time while all this happened, and I managed to keep my job and graduate with a 4.0. So, it can be done. And I look back at that time as an enormous challenge at which I seriously, indisputably, kicked ass. I'm proud of getting through it.

Wouldn't want to do it again, though.

I hope it all works out for you too.
posted by MrVisible at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2010

I hope you were covered by insurance. If not everything you have is covered and you made purchases by credit card, contact them to find out if any of your recent purchases is covered by their accident/loss/theft coverage (many cards offer protection for 90 days or so after purchase; not sure if fire damage is covered but it doesn't hurt to ask). A fellow MeFite was able to recover part of the cost of a stolen laptop in this fashion.

Also, not sure what stage you're at in dealing with this thing, but I thought I'd offer some practical local advice (not sure how long you've been living in Philly so if you know all this, that's fine).

You'll probably be wanting to get your hands on some things to have a semblance of living arrangements. Thrift stores are a good place to get stuff that is cheap and transient, so if you can't hold on to it when you move to a new place it's okay. You may already have your favorite thrift stores that you frequent, but if not these are my recommendations:
  • Philly AIDS Thrift Shop is great for both clothing and kitchen items. It's located in South Philly.
  • New Life Thrift Shop is an excellent choice if you have a car. They have seriously everything. Excellent, excellent choice for clothing and their selection for the kitchen can't be beat.
  • Uhuru Furniture has tons of furniture including futons which you can use as a somewhat temporary bed until you get something nicer. Of course, plenty of their furniture is worth holding onto long-term.
Your occupation lists you as a computer security consultant. If you were working out of a home office and now don't have a place to work, get in touch with IndyHall. The founder, Alex, is a really cool guy and I'm certain he'd let you come in for either free or at a serious discount until you get your feet on the ground.

Finally, Roxborough is just around the corner. If for any reason you need a bed for a night or two, just MeMail me.
posted by Deathalicious at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2010

Scalefree, I am so sorry. I lost everything in a house fire 4 1/2 years ago. I know what you're going through.

Some advice:
- LEAN ON PEOPLE NOW, man. Don't feel embarrassed about it! I mean, if you can't lean on people after a HOUSE FIRE, then when can you?! I second everyone who's said that their community, whatever it was, was the best means of support. (Our church, which my family only attends sporadically, came through for us with furniture and helping us move into the apartment across the street from the house. They were life savers and come to think of it, I'm going to send the pastor a card this year.)

- make a list of stuff other people can do for you. People will want to help, but not know what to do. Then comes the hard part: if you're too tired to get groceries, for example, call someone up who's offered help and say "Look, man, I just can't face getting groceries today but I really need them. I made a list, will you go grocery shopping for me?" Even stuff like that was really too difficult to do in the first month after the fire; I would burst into tears just thinking hey, we need some tea... to make in the tea kettle that we don't have, to drink in the cups we don't have. Again, don't be embarrassed. People will love to help you right now.

- get some counselling. There's a lot of grief tied up in losing your stuff, plus whatever physical danger you were in from the fire--it can be really, really traumatizing. It certainly was for me; I ended up with PTSD that lasted for years. That probably wouldn't have happened if I'd really been able to process what was going on at the time.

- Don't take anything people say to heart. They're going to want to help, but not know how, so they'll say stupid shit like "it's only stuff" or "at least everyone's okay." And then you just want to scream at them, like Yeah, but what about the fact that I'm completely traumatized and I DON'T HAVE ANY UNDERWEAR? But like I said. Don't take it to heart. People don't know what to say, even if they've been through it, sometimes.

If I, a stranger in the Midwest, can, in any way, help you, PLEASE memail me. I am completely serious about this.
posted by saveyoursanity at 1:25 PM on November 30, 2010

I think a lot of good advice has already been given here. I just wanted to chime in and say that this also happened to me when I was 25. I didn't have my stuff insured and like you, I had to start over completely. This will become at least a part-time job for a while, to deal with all of the practical issues, paperwork, shopping and replacing items, etc. You will feel quite overwhelmed in the coming weeks, and as others here have said, be sure to seek help anywhere you can get it. You are likely to find out who your real friends are during this period; I was shocked by both the utter kindness and generosity of total strangers, as well as the lack of support from some of my supposed friends.

To some degree, these tasks will keep you busy and take your mind away from your immediate sense of loss. For me and others who were made homeless by our apartment fire, I think the real sense of grief and loss did not set in until a while later, when the adrenaline and frantic pace of recovery began to slow down. Be sure to watch out for this and know that you may need more emotional support or therapy in the future.

Accept help from the Red Cross. I felt weird about taking "charity" at first, but they helped me buy some clothing and new bedding when I found a new place, and just having a mattress and linens went a long way to helping me feel normal again. Lots of people tried to offload their random castoffs and unwanted junk on me, and that wasn't particularly helpful, though maybe a friend can help you collect needed items from a list you create.

Mostly I just wanted to say, though, that despite the awfulness of the experience, I did make a complete recovery, and faster than I ever imagined. That's not to say that I replaced all the things I lost, but rather that I got back on stable ground and recreated my life over a period of months. By the one year anniversary of my fire, I honestly felt recovered. There were still some occasional pangs of grief, but I learned some really valuable lessons about the value of things and was able to re-evaluate some of the things that were (and are) important to me. In retrospect, I feel that it was actually an important life experience, and one that helped shape the person that I became—hopefully a more compassionate, practical and generous person. Hang in there. This is a low point, but things will get better.
posted by amusebuche at 4:24 PM on November 30, 2010

Nthing calling the Red Cross. Also, if you have a 211 line in your community, call them and ask for assistance. By their very nature, they're connected to many helping agencies, so they may be able to point you to many people/groups that can help you.

Definitely take it easy on yourself. I'm from Iowa, and my sisters lost everything in the flood of 2008, as did many of my neighbors/coworkers/etc. It's miserable and recovery is definitely a process, but you will make it! Ask for help; people want to help you.
posted by epj at 4:54 PM on November 30, 2010

Best answer: To expand on what amusebuche said a bit regarding the Red Cross, don't ever feel bad about asking them for help. This is exactly what Disaster Services/DAT does, exactly what we are trained and set up to do, and exactly what donors give their money to have done. 90+% of the calls we respond to at my chapter are for fires, it is by far the most common type of displacement we handle at the chapter level. Don't worry about it, not one bit. Helping people in your situation is literally what the people in your Red Cross chapter willingly give their time to do.

Disaster Services exists to help you get back on your feet.
Use it in every way you can to achieve that purpose, and don't spend a second feeling bad about it. Work with the caseworkers at the number I gave above to figure out every way the Red Cross can assist you with getting at least your basic needs met, and getting a plan together for what you're goingto do next. That's what they are there for.

When you do get back on your feet, kick a couple bucks to your local chapter if it feels right. Former clients aren't necessarily our biggest donors, but they are among our most reliable and great to hear from because they truly get what we do and why it's important. Or just send a nice thank you note, those are really nice to get and if your chapter is like mine, the volunteers who worked that response will be personally made aware of it. Or do nothing, because no one is tracking you or expecting anything from you. It is, truly, a gift.
posted by rollbiz at 5:08 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: condolences. fire is one of the plagues that's not yet visited me and i hope to escape this world with that record intact, so i honestly can't imagine what you're going through. i suspect that there are at least two things coursing through your gray matter: fear & confusion. i can't do a thing to allay your fear except to tell you that what doesn't kill you will make you stronger (if you believe that sort of thing), but i'm fairly confident that the confusion will abate.

i'm one of the gajillions of people visited by katrina. i didn't lose everything, and i can imagine it's not a popular sentiment, but i've always contended that things would be easier if the house would have blown down & washed away, taking everything i own with it. i'm still not sure why i stayed, but it ended up working out fine; i can say the same of the people i know who cut their losses and moved out of state--many of them seem happier than the ones who stayed and had to deal with the aftermath.

there's a couple of things i will offer: first of all, you salvaged the most important thing, which is yourself. any material things can be replaced; mourn the sentimental possessions you lost & celebrate the stuff you had that you didn't really want anyway. then let it go. you can replace everything eventually.

accept any reasonable offer of help before it's rescinded or forgotten. in 6 weeks or 6 months no one will be offering anything; take what you can get now. there's a long road ahead.

find out if fema or any other agency will help with funds to help you find a place to stay temporarily. (whatever anyone says about fema, they did right by me.) red cross is also an excellent resource, as you're finding out.

if someone takes pity & offers you a job (or a car or some clothes or whatever) TAKE IT. seriously. it doesn't matter why people are offering or how uncomfortable it might be to accept help; you are in a position that no one should ever find himself in. if you have a friend or family member who can help you navigate phone calls (to fema or red cross or wherever) and apartment hunting and job hunting and everything down to buying new underwear, accept that as well. there's a good chance you're not thinking as clearly as you might under other circumstances. even if it's just someone to literally or figuratively hold your hand, allow them to do so. you've been through a trauma and you need to respect that. small comforts are still comforts, and i'm guessing you need all the comfort you can get.

cry when it gets overwhelming. and then pull yourself together & get back to the business of re-creating your life.

it's almost assuredly not going to be easy. it does, however, offer opportunities. the really scary thing is that you very well might not know what those opportunities are until they're right in front of you.

be kind to yourself. and best of luck.
posted by msconduct at 6:04 PM on November 30, 2010

Response by poster: I just wanna say, really what I feel like doing is marking just about every message here Best Answer. This has been a very not-fun experience, but the care & attention you're all putting into someone who's just words on a screen to most of you is just amazing & humbling. I'm constantly astounded that a place like this exists on the Internet. It really is that kind of place. Thanks again.
posted by scalefree at 6:55 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

When a school friend lost their house in a fire, we went through our photo albums and made copies of school photos and other photos we had with the kids in them, and sent these to them. If you lost photos and that is hurting, try sending out an email to all your friends and relatives asking them to go through their albums and get copies for you. This may not be such an issue these days where people have more electronic copies, but if you would like photo memories of earlier times, this may be helpful.
posted by AnnaRat at 11:44 PM on November 30, 2010

Call around to churches (even if you don't belong) and explain the situation. Every once in awhile, one will have gift cards for grocery stores or hotels in the area. I used to work at a church that had a very limited number of these things every month, and I know the Catholic church in the area had a few more resources. At least at my church (Lutheran), they didn't even ask questions about religious issues or if you belonged. I kind of suspect the Catholics didn't, either, but I'm not sure. They just saw it as helping people that needed it.
posted by wending my way at 11:31 PM on December 1, 2010

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