Overcome with losing memories, now overcome with love

by Amy Yen, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region

Shayna Cope tears up when she talks about Grandma’s house. The house where her husband Lee took his first steps. The house that is now destroyed beyond repair it was hit by a tornado in Canton last weekend.

“It was the family home. We have all those memories there,” she says emotionally. “It’s like losing another family member.”

Grandma is thankfully okay. She was alone in the house with her two cats when the tornado hit, hunkered down in the linen closet. Shayna was out at the pharmacy when the tornado warning went off on her phone and she was forced to take cover. The neighbors called to tell her the house had been hit and her husband and stepson went to look for Grandma.

“It tore everything up. We went through today and saved what we could, but everything else is trash. The ceilings are caving in. Everything got flooded. All our belongings got destroyed, mold is everywhere.”

Grandma, who turns 80 in August and is on oxygen 24/7, now faces the daunting task of starting over. It is almost overwhelming for Shayna and her family. Shayna admits she is proud and not used to asking for help. But with everything destroyed, Grandma was in need of even the most basic of necessities.

“We came into the resource center yesterday and were able to get Grandma some stuff she needed, like nightgowns and shirts and shoes. Everything she has is either destroyed or wet and moldy. I told Grandma, you’re going to start again,” said Shayna.

At the Red Cross Multi-Agency Resource Center, she is greeted like an old friend and her son is given toys to play with while she speaks to the caseworkers.

“It’s overwhelming with the love, everyone coming together. I’m not used to it. It took a lot for me to ask for help. Just the fact that we have this support system, that’s what we really need,” she says while watching her son play. “It’s been emotional. My husband said, make sure you stay busy. Yesterday, I finally broke down in front of the house. We lost so many memories. I told Grandma, we can replace everything, it’s just stuff. But we can’t replace those memories. It’s just overwhelming to start over.”

Through it all, Shayna is grateful that Grandma is alive and well, and has hope, thanks to those who have helped her.

“For the people that volunteer, you don’t know how much that means. When something devastating like this happens, you’re so overwhelmed, you don’t know where to start or how to keep your composure,” she says. “I learned you can’t do everything by yourself. The volunteers here, they help us know everything’s going to be okay and not to give up.”

To learn how you can volunteer to help people affected by disasters, visit RedCross.org/Volunteer. To donate to relief efforts in Canton and around the country, visit RedCross.org/Donate.

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