Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Red Cross Thoughts on Big Tex Fire

Written by Anita Foster, Chief Communications Officer, American Red Cross-North Texas Region 

Big Tex, the 60 year-old cowboy who towers above everything at the State Fair of Texas, is as much a part of the iconic Dallas, Texas landscape as J.R. Ewing and the Dallas Cowboys. To see him burn was a shock to fair-goers, television viewers and Twitter addicts. People felt helpless to do anything to save Big Tex. When the fire was out, all that remained were memories of better days.

At the Red Cross, we’ve talked a lot about the Big-Tex fire because the reaction of people mirrors what real victims of disaster experience every day. Your “breaking news” happens when a neighbor or your local fire department calls to tell you your home is on fire. You rush to get there.

Just as the crowd assembled at the base of Big Tex to watch the devastation unfold, your neighbors will do the same. They’ll desperately want to help save your home, but there’s nothing anyone can do so they’ll shoot some photos with a smart phone and post to their Facebook page.

Firefighters will fight the blaze with all they have, but when the fire is out, what is left is often unrecognizable. The wire frame of Big Tex represents your couch, your bed and all of your appliances. Your clothes are gone, just like Big Tex’s. The firefighters will let you know that the Red Cross is on the way as they roll up their hoses and head back to the fire hall.

Just as Big Tex fans stopped by the fair on Saturday and Sunday to show their love of the Texas giant, your friends and neighbors will stop by your home in the upcoming days to see the damage for themselves. It will be good for you because you’ll be able to talk through the disaster and know you have support.

Across the community, thousands of people changed their Facebook photos to highlight Big Tex. A local church group held a prayer service and representatives from the State Fair of Texas assured us all that Big Tex would be back—bigger and better than ever.

Tragedies happen every day in the Metroplex. Our DFW Red Cross team helps an average of five families every single day because of home fires. These families experience the same shock and emotional reaction to losing everything they own as we experienced watching Big Tex burn down. In order to restore peace of mind, the Red Cross makes sure that families have a safe place to stay and the means to purchase new clothing, new shoes and groceries for their families. No doubt, Dickies will be sure that Big Tex gets a new set of clothes and the State Fair team will make certain that he’s safe until his unveiling next year. And that’s the best message of all.

Big Tex experienced a serious emergency, but he will recover, just as the fire victims we meet recover. It’s not easy nor is it a quick process, but over time, with community support from organizations like the Red Cross, families are able to see brighter days ahead.

To learn more about home fires and how the Red Cross helps, view this quick three minute video:

For all of you who support the Red Cross so that we can help fire victims every day, we send you our sincere thanks. If you’d like to become a donor to help fire victims, click on www.redcross.org/dfw or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10. 

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