With the recent wildfires destroying many homes and towns in many states in America, Dr. Tom Copeland, professor of psychology and director of the HSU Honors Program, is reminding the Hardin-Simmons community that giving and loving others is especially important during times such as these.
He knows this all too well, as his brother recently lost his home due to wildfires.
According to Dr. Copeland, his brother, Glenn, texted him Thursday afternoon to tell him that they were evacuating Carbon, located in Eastland County.. His wife, Debbie, grabbed a few items from the home, and before she was able to return for anything else, sheriff’s deputies were urging them to leave as fast as possible.
“So she basically got out with what she was wearing and just a few vital things. No pictures, keepsakes, clothes, etc.,” Dr. Copeland said.
About an hour later, Glenn got the news that their home was destroyed, and his neighbor sent him the devastating picture of his home completely engulfed in flames.
“The next morning at about 6 a.m. they went out there and walked around and it was just a big pile of ashes,” he said.
They were able to stay with their daughter in Eastland, and they have been supported by their family. Dr. Copeland went to visit them and to bring them some necessities.
“They were doing okay, but seemed to still be in shock. I think it’s just hard to realize that everything you owned a few hours ago is gone. They had (and still have) a great attitude about it. They know they just lost “things”, and it could have been much worse, but it’s still just a hard thing to see 40 years of your life just disappear overnight.”
Copeland explained that the neighborhood looked like a war zone, as many houses were burned to ash and rubble. There were many people standing around, staring at what used to be their homes.
“The volunteer firefighters came by and were apologizing to my brother for not being able to save their house. There was lots of hugging and crying.”
Copeland stated that it has been difficult to see the pain of his family and the others that have lost their homes, but it has shown him that the most important things in life are family, friends and neighbors, and that they are even more valuable than antiques and family heirlooms that have been kept for generations..
“Glenn posted something on Facebook about just being completely overwhelmed by not only the loss, but more so the sacrifice and hard work of firefighters and law enforcement and electricians and linemen and then the outpouring of love from family and friends and neighbors and even strangers,” Dr. Copeland said.
He said that it is important to realize that even if you are not directly connected to someone who has lost a home, a tragedy in a community does affect everyone.
“We have to realize that we are all connected and no one really lives completely separate lives. I think it’s particularly true for Christian people. Our ‘neighbor’ is anyone who is in need. Of course, sometimes it takes a situation like this to remind us of that.”
Glenn and Debbie are doing okay, as they have people helping them, but Dr. Copeland encourages everyone to donate to the Red Cross, fire departments out there fighting the fires and the churches that are helping people survive.