Out of the ashes | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Out of the ashes

Two weeks ago, our family of five arrived in South Lake Tahoe from New Jersey for a much anticipated vacation. We checked into the lovely Deerfield Lodge, enjoyed a great day hiking Mount Tallac, and after a wonderful meal, fell asleep early.

At 11:45 p.m., our lives were turned upside down. We were awakened by sounds of yelling outside to find that our hotel was on fire just feet from our room. We exited our room to find a wall of fire to our left and ran to safety with only the clothes on our backs, watching helplessly as our room and all of our belongings as well as our rental car burned before our eyes.

At that point, we were essentially homeless. We had only the clothes we slept in (underwear and T-shirt for me). We didn’t have wallets, money, credit cards, clothes, shoes, glasses, etc. Our situation seemed hopeless at the time and maybe it would have been except for the response of your community.

Almost immediately, neighbors gave us the shirts off their backs (literally in some cases). We were given blankets (aka pants for me), sweatshirts, water and kind words. The city sent representatives and a bus to take us to the Lakeside Inn for the night. The next day, the community response was overwhelming with donations of clothing and food from Hard Rock Cafe, a generous donation of gift cards from Stardust Lodge and donations by local residents and businesses got us back on our feet. Ashley, Ali, Taylor and the rest of the managers at Deerfield and the Alder Inn bent over backwards to help us.

We made it safely back to New Jersey, shaken by the experience but buoyed by kindness of strangers. They say that you find out who your real friends are when you are in need. Thank you South Lake Tahoe for befriending us in our greatest time of need.

The Ventrellas

Mount Laurel, N.J.

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