FLORAL PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A family from Long Island was burned out of their home for Thanksgiving, but they were thankful for all the help they received.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, the family is living in a motel after all their belongings were destroyed.
“The fire started creeping up that wall,” said Thomas Urban.
He pointed to his now-charcoaled bedroom, where an electrical fire on Monday nearly killed his father-in-law.
“I heard my wife scream,” Salvatore Zabala said.
Zabala suffered second-degree burns to his head, eye and fingers in a losing battle with rapidly-spreading flames. The inferno gutted the home the family has lived in since 2007 on Holland Avenue in Floral Park.
A beloved cat died in the blaze, but everyone else in the three-generation family came out safety.
“At least my father made it out alive, and my mother made it out,” Joisee Urban told TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose.
But what cannot be replaced are the fire-ravaged clothes, furniture and personal belongings now in the rubble, such as the children’s prized collections of stuffed dolls and toy trucks, and 8-year-old James Urban’s many drawings.
“I’ve been making pictures. I’ve been hanging them up in grandpa’s bedroom, but since the fire, all of it was burned,” James said.
Thomas Urban said he is not sure when he will get insurance payments to pay for temporary housing, and the cash-strapped family has struggled to pay for the motel where they will likely live for months. He said the family is now living on credit cards.
But on this holiday, the family said they are thankful for the immediate support from neighbors far and wide.
“I’ve had thousands of phone calls, text messages, love – thank you everybody,” Urban said.
He said friends started a Facebook GoFundMe page that has already brought in a $300 cash donation, as well as free travel arrangements for his sons to get to school.
“It makes me feel like everyone is in this together. We’re going to get through this together. They’re all helping a lot,” said Jake Urban, 10.
The family was celebrating Thanksgiving with relatives on Long Island Thursday. They wanted everyone to know they felt blessed for the help recovering.