Displaced family overwhelmed by support
Devastating fire levels Heart’s Content home
HEART’S CONTENT — The multi-purpose room at the municipal building on the morning of Jan. 9 was a much different scene than it was a week ago.
There are bags of clothes in every corner of the medium-sized room. It looks like an entire community emptied their closets in an early attempt at spring-cleaning.
It’s the result of a heart-warming — though not entirely surprising — demonstration of community spirit and compassion.
Each article of clothing has been donated in aid of the eight members — including five children — of the Piercey family.
The family was left homeless following a devastating fire during the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 5, at the height of a provincewide power outage and winter snowstorm. The fire completely levelled the bungalow, though all occupants escaped without injury.
Divided into six distinct areas, a table has been set up for each of the Piercey children — Logan, Madison, Meaghan, Ashley and Taylor, ages 4 to 15 — as well as one for parents Lorne and Shayna, along with family patriarch, 75-year-old Nelson Piercey.
Sets of bags sit on each table, the name of the corresponding child has been scribbled on each.
There are T-shirts, coats, jackets, jeans, sneakers and toy sets.
Many of these clothes came in over a 24-hour period. By Jan. 6, Shayna had gone through more than 50 bags of clothes. And, it was still coming in.
“That day was a bit overwhelming,” she said standing amidst the donations. “Right away, people just started helping and giving and caring. You know people are going to help. I didn’t expect so much, so fast.”
Up to late last week, the Piercey’s had heard from families all over the province and Canada about other donations.
Things like kitchen sets, washers, dryers and televisions have all been offered, as well as a room at Legge’s Motel and Restaurant.
“Danny Legge told us it’s free rent for as long as we need it,” said Lorne.
Families have brought the Piercey’s food, providing them with meals and are constantly concerned for how they are faring.
“The people have been so good and that eases a lot of pressure,” said Lorne.
In the aftermath, all five children have been staying together with a family friend.
Since the fire, Pat Smith and a couple of other women have been at the municipal building helping the family sort through the mountain of clothes.
“Even when we’re busy doing other things, the people are still helping and making it easier for us,” said Shayna.
There is enough clothes in the room for two families.
The Piercey’s plan to donate what they do not take to other charities like the Salvation Army.
Eleven-year-old Meaghan awoke to use the bathroom just before 2 a.m. She thought the bathroom had caught fire.
Reacting immediately, she raced to tell her father the dire news.
“I jumped up and grabbed a jug of water,” said Lorne.
When he got there, the room was not in flames, but he could see a bright glow through the floor. The basement had caught fire.
The house quickly filled with smoke, but everyone managed to get out of the house; some of the children in only stocking-covered feet.
Shayna had to carry her youngest daughter out while she was sleeping.
“It if wasn’t for Meaghan, they would be planning a funeral for eight,” she said.
Fire departments from Winterton and Heart’s Content put in yeoman’s work that morning.
“They have to be commended,” said Shayna.
A provincewide power outage made fighting the blaze difficult. There was little water pressure in that area of Heart’s Content, meaning crews had to travel nearly a kilometre away to fill the trucks’ tanks from a hydrant with more pressure.
To combat hot spots, Heart’s Content Fire Chief Brian Pitcher said crews used snow.
In addition to the water shortage, Pitcher said the hoses kept freezing, adding to the difficulties facing the brigades.
By the end, Pitcher’s hands were numb from the cold.
“The main thing was everyone got out of the house,” he said.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Lorne makes sure to mention the work of Pitcher and assistant chief Doug Squires, along with the rest of the volunteers who responded.
“They’re the two best men you will ever meet in your life,” he said.
Lorne also made sure to thank Wilson Peddle for his efforts.
Peddle, along with Piercey and Pitcher, have been instrumental in setting up a trust fund to help with the renovations to Lorne and Shayna’s home, which is under construction next door to the pile of rubble and ashes.
A strong man
It’s been a hard six months for Nelson. The 75-year-old has suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Now, he has lost the home he has been living in since 1985.
“No one in the world has had a father like him,” said Lorne. “He’s always been there for me. Always.”
Shayna hopes their lives can soon return to some semblance of normalcy.
The family has accepted an offer to move into a temporary home in New Perlican.
By all accounts the five children have been a rock through this situation.
“You wouldn’t believe ( how much it helps), not too have the pressure,” said Lorne. “If they start crying, I’ll start crying.”
This all that remains of Nelson Piercey’s Heart’s Content home after it was levelled by a fire in the early morning hours of Sunday, Jan. 5.
Lorne (left) and Shayna Piercey have been overwhelmed by the level of support they have received since a devastating fire on Jan. 5 in Heart’s Content left them, their five children and a grandparent homeless.