Sarah Jane & Eric both in Hospital

On Monday, 8+ hours into being without power, with temperatures inside our apartment at 45°, someone in our apartment building lit a fire in their fireplace to keep warm. We don't know the circumstances but that fire spread from their apartment across the building. We were given just a few minutes to get out. My family (my husband and 10 year old son) got out with the clothes on our backs and my cellphone.

We sat in our car trying to keep warm for as long as we could (we were trapped in behind the ladder truck) as the fire department tried to put the fire out but were forced out when they finally got the water to work.

While we sat in the front office freezing there NO ONE from management of the complex to help us,  give us answers, or anything, The only people there at the time were maintenance workers. One person told us the management had called Red Cross but they never showed up. Without battery on my phone (and no where to charge), I had no way of calling anyone to ask for help. After several hours of waiting, we were told we could go back into the apartment to grab what we could. I saw a waterfall pouring in through the ceiling of my son's room. With no roof on the building, at this point, I have no idea what else was damaged at this point. The complex send up one update and said the building is a total loss. It's not liveable & that we'd have to find a new place to live. They also added we wouldn't have to pay damages to the apartment and the lease was now broken. They did not offer help to house us or find a new place and as of this moment (Wednesday the 17th, they still haven't reached out to us).

I called the Red Cross myself after driving us to an emergency warming center. They send us $500 for room/essentials. There were no rooms anywhere so we stayed there the night. We thought we found a room and booked it but when we got there, they said the 3rd party booking shouldn't have done that. They had no room for us and it wasn't their fault. I drove up the street and walked into the next hotel and, thankfully, they had a room. We're here through Sunday. It costs almost double what the Red Cross gave us but we took it anyway because we needed shelter.

With no way of getting anything in our apartment (if anything is salvageable at this point) for "weeks up to months" according to the one update the complex gave us, we are without everything. They told us to basically forget about getting what's left, if anything in the apartment. We have to find a new place to live in a state that is under a winter freeze and power blackout. We have nothing but what we're wearing and a few electronics. I wasn't going to start this GoFundMe because we have such an awesome Twitter group, they rallied around and donated to us over the past couple of days. That will help us continue to pay for this room past Sunday and for food. It's enough for us to get clothes and essentials when stores actually open for business. I was urged to start this anyway so there was one central point people could donate and spread the word so I have. I appreciate everyone who has helped us far. Without you, we wouldn't be here right now.

Anything you can donate would be amazing. I'm trying to figure out what to do next. We have to find a new permanent place to live (while competing with others who need housing in a city crippled with power/water issues). We will also have to buy everything to furnish the place. We'll need clothes. We'll need appliances...Basically, we have to rebuild our entire life.

I thank you in advance for any help you can give us, whether it's a donation or even sharing the story. We appreciate you all so much.
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Sarah Jane 
Austin, TX
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