PERU — Craig and Tina Rock just lost their home in a fire — and their reaction is not what you might expect.
“The whole experience has almost been inspiring, in some ways,” Craig told the Press-Republican.
Fire broke out in the family’s mobile home in Peru on June 9.
The couple and their children — Lexi, 9, and Tyler, 8 — were not there at the time. No one was injured, but their home was destroyed.
However, the Rocks have been touched by the kindness and compassion they have been shown following the fire. A benefit event is being planned to help them, though the time and place have yet to be set.
In the meantime, the family has been able to discover hope and joy in the midst of loss.
“It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom,” Craig said.
He wanted to let people know about the good things that have happened since the fire.
“It’s important for people to see the end result — not that it’s the end exactly.”
“The middle,” suggested Lexi.
Craig stressed the importance of renter’s insurance —something he is very thankful to have had.
“If you rent, get renter’s insurance,” he said, noting there have been many benefits.
For example, the Rocks are staying at La Quinta Inn and Suites while they look for a new place, and their insurance is paying for the room.
“I can’t imagine going through this without renter’s insurance,” Craig said.
“That would be a disaster,” Lexi added seriously.
Craig is appreciative of “the simple kindness of strangers.”
The staff at the hotel has shown that, he said. When the housekeepers go into the children’s room, they pick up all the stuffed animals and arrange them nicely on the beds.
“It’s the little things,” said Tina.
Craig said they can see the mountains and the lake from their fourth-floor room, and he is looking forward to being able to watch a thunderstorm.
“I can’t say enough good about the Peru Fire Department,” he said. “When the Fire Department had their weekly meeting, we took the kids to show their respect for the firemen.”
The kindness the Fire Department showed to the children made the trip even more rewarding.
“We got to go inside the fire trucks,” Lexi said.
“And we saw the ax they used to smash the window,” Tyler said.
Thanks to a brave neighbor, Peru firefighters and Eagle’s Nest Veterinary Hospital, the family cats are all doing fine. A neighbor rescued one, and firefighters saved the other two, resuscitating one of them.
Since then, the cats have been cared for at Eagle’s Nest.
“They’ve been really good to us, too,” Craig said.
The family dog was with the Rocks during the fire and was not injured.
An exotic fish in their living room was believed to be a loss — until they looked more closely.
The fish, named Leroy, is an Oscar — a species of cichlid native to the Amazon River. They are a social fish, Tina said, noting that Leroy would follow her hand if she moved it along the side of the tank.
The tank itself was damaged from the heat of the fire, and Leroy was found floating upside down. The Rocks assumed that he was dead. Then, someone noticed that his gills were moving slightly.
Amazingly, Leroy was alive — and he is now doing fine in his new tank.
Now, the Rocks are focused on finding a new place to live. They are looking for a home they can rent in the City of Plattsburgh, preferably the north Plattsburgh area, that will allow pets. Craig can be contacted at 335-8597.
IDEA FOR NONPROFIT
In addition, the perspective that the experience provided has changed some of their plans in life.
Tina now has the dream of starting a nonprofit — a warehouse full of donated items for daily use. Then, when someone loses their home in a fire, flood or other disaster, she would go to the scene, give them her card and invite them to the warehouse to get whatever they need.
The Rocks noted that such programs exist in other places, but not in the tri-county area.
“I’m excited; I really want to do that,” Tina said. “There’s enough great people around that I think I can have it within two years.
“There’s a huge need. And I love to give things away.”
CHANGE OF PLANS
Craig and Tina own and operate the seasonal Go! Calendars concession at Champlain Centre mall in Plattsburgh, and Craig was recently offered the opportunity to buy four of the company’s concessions in Burlington.
Before the fire, he was planning to do so. Now, he sees things differently.
“It would mean too much time away from my family,” he said.
With the fire, he explained, “we’ve lost a lot of belongings — but that’s just stuff.”
The experience has made him appreciate his family even more, and while running four Burlington concessions might be financially profitable, it would leave him with little time to spend with his children.
“When you go through this, you have more of an appreciation for the things you have in life. You have more of an appreciation for family.”