ARAB, Ala. (WHNT) - A Marshall County family is working to move forward after a house fire destroyed everything, and they're doing it with the help from perfect strangers.
"My house is a total loss," Danesa Cook says.
All that is left of her family's home is a burned shell, twisted metal and melted plastic. A fire ripped through the home on Nathan Road in Arab early Saturday morning. Everyone got out safely, including the pets.
The home though, is gone.
It was something the family cherished, because of who left it to them. "It was my mother's," Cook says,"That's what hurts the most about losing the house."
As soon as the fire started they called 911.
Watching it burn the family wondered how they will move forward.
But then they got a phone call from a perfect stranger. "As far as I know, 911 called them, and they called me probably 30 to 40 minutes after I dialed the 911," Cook says.
The family has never met them.
The caller didn't know them either. "They're going to come out here to meet with me to see what they can do to assist," Cook says.
The family didn't expect it, but this is what the volunteers at the American Red Cross do. In northeast Alabama, the sole organization that covers Marshall, Jackson, and DeKalb Counties helped nearly 200 families displaced by fires last year.
It all starts with a phone call from 911 centers or fire departments that a family needs them. "The first thing we do is try to address their immediate needs - food, water, shelter," Judy Rhea says.
She's the Community Chapter Executive of the northeast Alabama chapter of the American Red Cross. It's her job to oversee all three boards in the three counties.
Rhea says that initial aid to families doesn't end there. The organization will do anything that family needs to move forward, from counseling to filling prescriptions that may have burned.
The organization pays for all of it, funded by donations. "We have volunteers. Our volunteers are the base of the American Red Cross," Rhea says.
They lend their time to help perfect strangers.
To the Cook family though, those volunteers aren't strangers anymore. They're life savers.
And there's only one thing they can say to them. "Thank you," Cook says.
The Arab Fire Department says they don't have an official cause of the fire just yet. The family says they heard noises coming from the breaker before the flames started.
Rhea says they are always looking for more volunteers. If you are interested in lending your time or support, follow this link.