Dis­placed fam­ily over­whelmed by sup­port

Dev­as­tat­ing fire lev­els Heart’s Con­tent home

The Compass - - THE COMPASS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER

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.

Over­whelm­ing sup­port

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.

Sort­ing through

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.

The hero

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.

Yeo­man’s work

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.

Spe­cial thanks

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.

Pho­tos by Ni­cholas Mercer/The Com­pass

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.

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