Family safe but devastated after fire destroys their home

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / March 20, 1999

LAPLACE – Claude Jr. and Emily Ford had carved out their own little pieceof heaven in a trailer park on Oswald Avenue. They moved their trailerthere 15 years ago and have been raising three boys.

That all changed March 13 with a disastrous fire which nearly gutted their home and destroyed nearly all their personal belongings, including clothing, furniture, family photos and mementos of a generation.

“He had just gotten out of the hospital from having a tumor removed from his leg,” Emily related. “The water had been out in the trailer for a coupleof days, and we were all at a friend’s house.”Apparently, she said, neighborhood youths broke into the trailer through the sliding glass kitchen door and somehow set the trailer on fire. Shesaid when Fire Chief Robert Bourgeois came out of the trailer, bearing the body of their dead dachshund, “I almost lost it.”Claude Jr. has worked as a mechanic at Mitey Muffler for 12 years, but histumor and related costs drained the family finances. With three sons -Claude III, 15, Christopher, 13, and Chad, 8, concern about the family’s future continues to dwell on Emily’s mind.

Inside the home, ceiling tiles had melted, furniture was badly charred and contents of drawer and closets were damaged by smoke and water. Alllegal papers were lost, and Emily quietly wept over discovery of what was left of her framed marriage license.

“They want to live back in the home they were raised in,” Emily said of her children, knowing full well that cannot happen because of the extensive damage.

“It hurts not to have some of the stuff that can’t be replaced, but I thank God we still have our children,” Emily said. “The oldest has been alifesaver. The youngest still doesn’t know what’s going on.”Chad just had his First Communion on Monday.

The family remains in dire straits. Their insurance company, unknown tothem, recently went bankrupt. Assistance from the American Red Crossand St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church has helped.More is needed. The family still needs clothing and help toward a place oftheir own until they can get back on their feet.

Their troubles continue. Occasional pilfering takes place in the trailer.Though locked securely, children have been spotted breaking in and rummaging for items to steal. Neighbors are trying to help but, Emily said,but police patrols are too infrequent.

Anyone with contributions of cash, clothing and other assistance can contact Emily Ford at 536-1628.

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