The smoke was visible even though it was dark. I remember hitting the brakes in the middle of the street. When I tried calling Mom’s, Jill’s and Dad’s cell phones, a message indicated the numbers were not in service. I had never felt such gripping fear. I have no idea how I turned right onto Goodrich Road where I parked my car. I jumped out, leaving my purse behind. I can’t even remember if I turned the car off.
I saw two boys heading toward Long Street and I asked if I could join them. When I reached the corner of Maple and Long Street, I stared in horror. The smoke appeared to be rising from our home.
“My house, my house!” I screamed.
One of the boys alerted a sheriff standing nearby. He tried to find a neighbor who could help me. One neighbor, whom we did not know well, refused to let me in. Looking back, I guess I can understand why they’d be put off by a hysterical woman on their doorstep. Luckily, another did, and kindly helped me call Jeff. The state I was in, I couldn’t even manage to push the buttons on the phone.
The woman held my hand and tried to reassure me. She and her husband literally held me up and walked me down to Maple toward Goodrich Road. We got in their car and drove to the Clarence Center Elementary School to wait for Jeff. When he arrived, we drove to another home near the school. A man was trying to call different hospitals to get more information. Jeff and I sat in the living room. The television was showing a view from Long Street. There was the brick house to the left and our house was not there. The garage with the basketball hoop was the only thing standing.
I started getting phone call after phone call from friends and Lori and Jess. They had heard about the accident and wanted details. All the phone calls and questions were overwhelming. I didn’t even know what was going on myself.
I felt some relief when I found out that Mom had talked to Jeff’s mom, and later when she called me from the hospital, but I definitely was in a state of shock.
During the night Jeff and I held each other and cried. I know I was hysterical and hardly slept at all. When I woke up Jeff forced me to take a shower because I smelled like smoke.