Police & Fire

Letters to the Editor

A Special Thank You For Helping Us Weather The Storm

9632077209336c0b976c_IMG_8386.JPG
Erica's home after a “microburst” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. Credits: Erica Santalla
e9f862198b866acda9ca_IMG_8387.JPG
Erica's home after a “microburst” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. Credits: Erica Santalla
35deb6ceaec09f6921fc_IMG_8390.JPG
Erica's home after a “microburst” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. Credits: Erica Santalla
38dea201df94d62f4cb0_IMG_8391.JPG
Erica's childhood home before storm Credits: Erica Santalla
6dd4b4ad0418da9addaf_IMG_8392.JPG
Happy times at Erica's Wedding in front of her childhood home with bridesmaids Credits: Erica Santalla
aeba17801603c5ddbd09_IMG_8393.JPG
Erica and her husband Johnny and dog on the front steps of her childhood home. Credits: Erica Santalla
9632077209336c0b976c_IMG_8386.JPG

About a month ago, on May 15, 2018, something happened to me and my family that changed our lives. An act of God, apparently a “microburst,” tore through our front yard, and uprooted an approximately 19,000 pound tree. The tree fell into my 8 month old’s bedroom destroying the entire structure of our home.

My husband, with what I call divine intervention, told us to go downstairs immediately, minutes before the tree hit.  He was right behind us when the tree fell, only we made it down in time, he did not. He made his way into a corner of the kitchen and when he finally thought it was safe to move he made his way over to the sliding glass doors, down the deck steps, and saw us below through the sliding glass doors of our first floor.

He told us to run to the Lodgek’s house which is across the street. The Lodgek family took us in like we were their own family. I will never ever be able to thank them enough, and our friendship, which was always strong, is now stronger from living through this together.

Sign Up for E-News

I grabbed my two boys, who were both screaming and crying and shaking, and John followed with our dog. We all made it out of the house alive. I got to their house, handed Krista the baby, and dropped to my knees after seeing my house from a distance.

This was my childhood home. Our home. Our safe place. My parents worked super hard to buy this house when I was 8 years old. They made it into a masterpiece. Blood, sweat, tears and tons of money were put in to make it their dream home, and a wonderful place for my brother and I to grow up and make tons of memories. Proms, movie nights with friends, holidays, pool parties, graduations, communions, confirmations, the night before my wedding and wedding day, starting my own family all happened there.  

The memories, laughter, tears, fights, and love that was in the house is endless. I cry as I write this because I think, if those demolished walls could talk, they would have such beautiful and emotional things to say about our life there.

In 2012, my husband John and I bought the home from my parents and started OUR life there. We redid it top to bottom, and made it into our dream home. This is where Grayson, my first son, took his first steps. We brought both boys home here. Tons of sleepless nights and bottles were made here. Toys everywhere. Grayson’s artwork. It was my boys’ first home. This is where Grayson learned to love the water, and swam every single day since 6 months old here. This is the home where Preston rolled over for the first time a few days before the tree fell.

But we will be back. It may not be the house that was in our family since I was 8, but it is the land. It is the feeling of that space. It is our property that I love. Most importantly, it is the street and neighborhood. I cannot thank my neighbors enough for the outpouring of love that I am still receiving to this day. I am blessed and honored to be able to come back to this street someday, and I miss being there with you all, terribly.

I also have to thank the Fairfield Police Department, and especially the Fairfield Fire Department. All of you who were there that night, you are also our angels. Being a shoulder to cry on, letting us know how to move forward, and guiding us when we did not know how to think, we are forever grateful. Again, there are not enough words for what those men did for us and still continue to do.

They came back the next day and the next day, and helped us remove and find many valuable items. They risked their lives to grab our children’s baby books, and some clothes and other important items, and we will never ever forget that bravery and compassion you showed.

Along with my brother-in-law, and uncle, they risked their lives by crawling up into our destroyed attic to grab what they could. They saved my music boxes made for me by my pop-pop who is passed. They saved my wedding dress. They saved a few of my husband’s collector’s items that mean the world to him. All while risking their lives doing it.

To our friends and family….your phone calls, texts, coffee, gift cards, hugs, help with kids, etc. etc. we are beyond grateful. To our family who helped climb through the rubble and destruction to save some of our things, my heart bursts for you. My best friends, who thought for me when I could not think at all, and let me cry and cry on their shoulders. To my parents who in a heartbeat, changed their lifestyle and lives to take us in, and made us feel at home in their home. To the family that stopped by to see us and to the family that helped take the kids for a few hours to let us collect our thoughts.

Someone said to me, you are getting back what you give, Erica. And I want you ALL to know, that I would turn around and be there for ALL of you like you were for me, in a heartbeat.

When my best friends wanted to start a GoFundme page, I was hesitant, but the money we made is now helping us remove more trees, as well as replace tons of furniture, clothes, food, and other items that insurance cannot cover. To those of you who donated and sent us gifts...God bless you and thank you so much.

We are beyond overwhelmed with how generous and loving people are, and I wish I could find the right words to say. I feel that a thank you will never be enough. Every single person in our lives has helped us get to the place we are at, now a month later, and we are still continuing to receive outpourings of love and gifts and well wishes. I wish I could list every single person that has helped us get to this point, but the numbers are tremendous.

To my beloved Fairfield….you have shown us how important community and citizenship is. What an unbelievable amount of support this town has shown. I am proud to have grown up here, and cannot wait to be back. The people of Fairfield have been nothing but gracious and loving, and as fellow community members, we will be there for all of you if you ever need us. This is what our town is about. When the chips are down, Fairfield always pulls through.

Our lives have been forever changed by this, and losing “stuff” is sad, but what we have gained from this is indescribable. We know that we are blessed by God, and have so many angels in our lives. In heaven and on earth. We know that we’ve done something right because of how others have treated us during this time. We know that material things mean nothing, it is our lives and love for each other that counts.

We know that my boys’ daddy and my husband is the real Superman. My husband has always loved this superhero, and now he actually is one. He rubbed off on you babe, because you saved our lives.

We know what it is like to have priorities change, and how worrying about how big your house is, or what car you drive, means absolutely nothing. We know that God is good, and that with him, our family and friends, and our love, we can get through anything.

My favorite movie, Wizard of Oz, ironically is all about “home.” And as Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home.” But I have also learned that home is truly where the heart is, and it is LOVE that makes a house a home.

I hope that anyone reading this will take away the lesson that material things do help make us who we are, and tie us to our memories and years and years of what we have worked for, but at the end of the day, being alive and loving each other is what truly matters, and we all have to keep the faith and remember what is important.

Audrey Hepburn once said,  “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” So hold on tight everyone, count your blessings, and remember just how powerful the human spirit really is.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

West Essex

$100 OFF per Week for Summer Camp Now!

July 12, 2018

Guerrero Marital Arts is now offering an 8-week summer camp for summer 2018!

Pick which weeks you want!

Camp Weeks are:

July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20, August 27

Includes the following:

Fitness
Fun (through Sports, Play and Games)
Field Trips (may cost extra)
Life Lessons
Reading Time
Martial Arts
A great place to ...

Bucco Couture Summer Sale on All Custom Suits, Shirts and Casual Wear

NUTLEY, NJ — Save while looking sharp! 20% off all summer wear an extra 10% savings for Military, Veterans and all first responders at Bucco Couture, 187 Franklin Avenue in Nutley, with the launch of some new products such as our tracksuit line, crushed cotton drawstring pants and jeans. 

We also carry Bugatchi and Rober Graham casual wear as well as stretch high V-neck ...

Newark Lures Amazon With $1 Billion Payroll Tax Incentive

July 14, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Amazon will get a payroll tax break at a cost of $1 billion to the city should the company open its second headquarters in Newark, according to one of two ordinances approved by the Newark City Council council to sweeten the deal for the corporate giant and stand out among other locations vying for Amazon’s so-called HQ2.

“The City Council has brought Newark a ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f6336b4ae60182e89776_roseland_library_logo

Mon, July 16, 10:00 AM

Roseland Free Public Library, Roseland

Walking for Fitness

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_f6336b4ae60182e89776_roseland_library_logo

Mon, July 16, 4:00 PM

Roseland Free Public Library, Roseland

Lego Mindstorms

Carousel_image_46ed49cea219fed6addd_prayer_for_owen_meany_image

Mon, July 16, 6:30 PM

West Caldwell Public Library, West Caldwell

Great American Read Book Discussions

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Public Invited to Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force Meeting

July 15, 2018

CALDWELL, NJ — All Essex County residents, mayors and councils, law enforcement members, school officials, clergy members, civic organizations and more are invited to join in the next Essex County Opioid Use Prevention Task Force meeting on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss how the Essex County communities can join work together to eradicate this epidemic.

The meeting will be held at the ...

Obituaries

Mar 23, 1932 - Jun 2, 2018
Obituary - Donald J. Cooney, March 23, 1932 to June 2, 2018 Donald J. Cooney, 86, of North ...
Read more

Education: A Bedrock of Democracy, Civic Engagement and Economic Prosperity

July 5, 2018

More than 240 years ago, our nation’s founders envisioned a country where individuals could forge their own destinies and not be constrained by the circumstances of birth. The essential concept was that people could govern themselves and participate in democracy, or what Benjamin Franklin and others called “a great experiment.” The vision was bold and has flourished as the ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.