Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fairport Harbor one year later

To those who were not directly impacted by the explosions in Fairport Harbor last year, it's hard to believe the one year anniversary is today.

But for those who lost everything, every day has taken its toll, and they are quite aware of just how long it has been, and how long they have been displaced from their homes.

I started working for The News-Herald just over a year ago as well, December 29, 2010, and after covering general assignment features for a while, I was given Fairport Harbor -  a little town where "not much happens."

The next thing I know, I'm in Fairport Harbor interviewing residents who literally just found out that their homes had been lost.

Bill Brewer was carrying a little plastic grocery bag full of whatever he had left - his home completely destroyed from the flames.

Marie Bonczek wouldn't go back to her home after she woke up to the sound of an exploding appliance in the early morning.

She was too distressed to see the house, and did not want to return until it was in a better state.
A year later, she still doesn't have a completed home.

Brandon Baker and I just worked on an anniversary article that will also appear online today  but I really wanted to express just how crazy it was that day from my perspective.

A new reporter, fresh out of college... this little, tight-knit community was suffering, and I had to go in and ask, "how do you feel and what will you do?"

The residents of Fairport really did come together, and Christine Yano at the Senior Center did everything she could to bring residents into the warmth of the building, offering food and comfort.

Fortunately, somehow, no one was physically injured during the tragedy that day - but it is definitely still something on residents' minds.

The conversations I had last week were much brighter, and it was good to see Marie and Bill in a better state; not perfect, but certainly on their way.

I think I will always have a soft-spot for Fairport Harbor because of the emotional experience the residents shared with me recently, and one year ago.

Caitlin Fertal
Twitter: @NHCaitlin


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