The Norman Transcript

April 20, 2014

Family thanks community, takes issue with photo


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

As I write this, it’s been almost eight weeks since Feb. 17, the day my family’s home burned in a fire. We lost our 15-year-old cat, Misti; 7-year-old dog, Sully; 3-year-old rescue squirrel, Rocky; almost 2-year-old kitty, Mr. Jinx; and our precious 8-month-old bottle fed kitten, Tubby Toby. Our 10-year-old cat, Jakob, was out of the house so he was spared. Our hearts are broken more due to the loss of our precious family members than to the loss of possessions.

We would like to thank the Norman Fire Department and their men for the swift action they took in attempting to save our home and our animals. They were extremely efficient and we appreciate that. The Fire Marshall was very helpful, courteous and informative, assisting in helping us find someone to board up our home, talking to us about talking to the press, etc.

The Norman Police Department also deserves a thank-you for their cordoning off of the area and their attempts at calming my family as we watched our home burn in disbelief. When the next day we had to call due to attempted looting at the house and our neighbor’s backyard, where we had taken some things, they reacted very swiftly in coming to talk to us about it and then in “visiting” with the looters.

We would like to thank Comfortworks Heating and Air for their donations of the large roll away dumpsters to remove the debris of our home. Thanks to their many employees who devoted many hours of their off-time to assist in stripping the house. Thanks to Chris Chavez from Comfortworks for showing up with pizza to feed everyone.

We would also like to thank Spectrum Paint for their generous donations of gloves, eye goggles, face masks and trash bags. We never expected these items and appreciate so very much the donations of them.

So many thanks go out into the community for so many things. Thanks to the lady riding by on her bike that made an attempt to get the front door open to rescue animals. To the neighbors that called to inform me of the fire, my special neighbor, Nesha. Thanks to the people we don’t know who showed up with pizza to feed us one day. To the person/persons who dropped off miscellaneous items to help with cleanup. To the special friends who showed up to help with cleanup. My children’s friends who took off work and school that first week to help with cleanup.

Special thanks must go out to our church family at University Christian Church. Before the fire was even out, our UCC family filled the yard across the street to check on us and see what they could do for us. They continue to do so and mean the world to us! Thanks also to my Alcott family who came to check on us and who also supplied gift cards. Parents who stopped by before the fire was even out. Thank you to both families for coming together to provide a fundraiser to assist with our rebuild. Thank you to my former classmates from the NHS class of 1976 who has contacted me.

Thank you to the Norman Board of Realtors and the Norman Red Cross division. Your assistance is greatly appreciated. Thanks to 1-800-Board-Up who came out and patiently waited while we removed a few things from the house before boarding it up to protect it from looters.

However, I don’t appreciate nor thank the photographer who exploited my family’s grief that day. The fact that he could go wherever he wanted but I could not, even though it was my house burning, was very disturbing to me. In fact, he was more than likely inhibiting the firefighters and police that were trying to help. The fact that he plastered my children’s picture on the front page of the paper (without our consent) made the day even worse. How would you like to see yourself on the front page of a newspaper during a personal tragedy? Don’t you think it would have been more appropriate to take pictures of the 2-alarm fire in progress? That’s why you were there in the first place, right? My two sons stayed up all night to protect the house from looters; as far as I’m concerned, the photographer is as guilty as those looters, for exposing my daughter’s grief to everyone. Everyone showed us compassion that day except The Norman Transcript photographer.

A fire is a devastating thing. Never would I have believed my family would have to go through this, especially without insurance. The devastation is even more compounded with the deaths of our furry friends, our family. However, through everything God has been so good. We’re blessed that we are able to stay with my mom. He’s provided people who have met our needs and assisted us through this horrifying experience. He’s provided us with an awesome church family and our work families to help us through it. We continue to proclaim that God is good. Thank you so much everyone. May He bless you.

SONYA COHLMIA GROB

Norman

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