Recovery Stories

Inspiring disaster survivor stories give others in similar situations reassurance in the recovery process.
If you would like to share your recovery story, please email us at: info@TheRedGuideToRecovery.com


Much thanks to you for this wonderfully prepared piece of work…

Several months ago I purchased [your book] and it has been the most helpful material I have encountered over my past thirty nine years working in the Claims Profession. All of my work now centers around assisting the victims of devastating losses to their Homes and Personal Property. I also have have had a long career in the Volunteer fire service in our local community. I am currently working on a somewhat shorter version that we can leave with the homeowner after we, as a Fire Department, leave the scene. This will improve our image in the community drastically.

We do not have that many really devastating house fires, so I can also , as an Officer and Board Chair, offer them free consultation on the do’s and don’ts they really need to be aware of.

For years I have wanted to write on this subject since I see so many blunderous mistakes made by victims solely because of their lack of knowledge coupled with the understanding they are not aware they have the right to seek outside assistance. Such a shame – all to the benefit of the huge Insurers making billions each year.

Currently I am working on a complete total fire loss – total destruction – very large home. The owner passed away about a year prior to the fire. His adult son lived in an apartment in the basement area until the fie. The Insurer demanded he prepare a complete inventory of all his Dad’s personal property – when and where it was purchased and how much he paid. With everything destroyed, this is next to an impossible task. I let him use a copy of your Key Listing and it has been of tremendous benefit so far.

Of the $284,000.00 coverage his Agent insisted he carry on his contents, the Adjuster paid only $51,000.00. We have demanded Independent Appraisal and with many of your suggestions along with my expertise gained over many years of schooling and experience, with a fair Umpire, I believe the Insurer is going to be in for a rude awakening when we finish this grueling task.

Much thanks to you for this wonderfully prepared piece of work you have put together. If I, at 67, can ever find the time to complete my writing, I hope it will be maybe half as good as what you have done. however I doubt that will be the case.. I do not plan on any publishing or marketing, but rather just as an aid in maybe our county Volunteer fire system for victims of such tragedy.

I think of all the victims of hurricane Sandy and how much they could use your material right now.  Thank you.

D.G. – Pendent, SC


A Life Altering Experience

The fires were a blessing. Nature runs its course and renews the land.  That is what happened to our 40 acres. In 2007 we qualified to have a new home built at no cost to us because we were seniors. Robin Clegg was responsible for informing us of the opportunity that got us a new home.  We had our Farmers Insurance cancelled after 30 plus years because of the Arizona fires ( 3 months prior to the 2003 fires). We had not found a new insurance company that would cover us and were caught without insurance. The good news is that is what qualified us for a new home in addition to being seniors.

The experience was life altering. We were one of the lucky ones because 8 of our neighbors did not make it. We are located on a mountain overlooking the Barona Indian reservation. We experienced several miracles that fateful night, one getting out alive.

Thank you for writing Disaster Survivors stories. They are uplifting and help people help each other in times of need.

I have written several stories regarding our harrowing experience. They are in an older computer and not available to forward today

Linda Strom-Medvitz – CA


Story of a Home Fire; Supporting Friends Who Lost Everything

1988 Imperial Fire-San Diego

Sifting through rubble-1988 Imperial Fire

In 1988, I was a 17 year old senior at Central Union High School in dusty El Centro, California.  Deep in the middle of the night, after coming home from a pleasant date, I awoke to the piercing sound of my mother’s voice hoarsely screaming “Fire! Fire!”.  My two sisters were grown and married, one brother was away at college, and so it was only my parents, me, and my party-animal brother at home. We were all able to exit calmly, but Dad couldn’t let the house become the neighborhood marshmallow roast, so he ran into back inside to get the fire extinguisher from under the kitchen sink.  I followed him in time to see the kitchen curtains fall in bright yellow flames onto his head and back.  The lion in me sprang to life and I was able to pull him out of the house.  Dad lived, but suffered 3rd degree burns over more than 25% of his body, mostly his arms, head and back.  He spent the next 2 or 3 months at the Burn Center in San Diego while we tried to piece our lives back together without him.  Not having the decision-maker around was a severe blow to our family livelihood and recovery process.  We wasted countless hours helping the fire department investigate the cause, when we should have been advocating our own cause with the insurance company, who reimbursed less than 80% of the contents, some of which included valuable 1920’s art and an amazing, extensive library.

All grown up, and living in the wildfire country of San Diego, I witnessed the inferno of the 2003 Cedar Fire and now keep a stock of air-filtration masks and emergency supplies in the house.  Fast-forward to 2007.  Several of my buddies, including Kim Catalano and Dan Lamborn, were visiting Thailand on a church missions trip when the Witch Creek Fire roared through Northeast San Diego County, decimating Ramona, Poway and Rancho Bernardo.  Kim’s house and her Tennessee Walker horses barely survived, but Dan’s (and his wife Denise’s) beautiful ranch home was reduced to 4 inches of fine gray ash.  Helping them sift through the ashes was not only heart-wrenching, but motivational.  I resolved to help them through the process until they had their life back.

Having the Red Guide to Recovery would have made the process quicker, simpler, and less stressful.  The Memory Jogger for insured household contents would have been a God-send in 1988 and 2007! Denise would not have wasted weeks trying to recall the contents of a 2,600 square foot home with sports equipment, clothing, toys, home furnishings and decor from 3 children and 2 adults.   It took almost 2 years to resolve the insurance morass, and thanks to Sean Scott’s help, Dan and Denise received full compensation for their loss.  I only wish my parents had known him in 1988.

Anita L. Duff – San Diego, CA


Witch Creek Fire Burned Home to the Ground

On October 22, 2007 the Witch Creek Fire destroyed our home.  Our house was burned to the ground with very little that was saved as we left our home.  Thankfully, our family and our animals made it away safely but for the next several months we were in a state of confusion.  The fire had destroyed all our property and had left us feeling disoriented and unsure.  We had to deal with issues of where to live, how to collect insurance, who to trust, who to contact to rebuild our home, what services are available, and how to deal with FEMA and other organizations.  We had many people approach us with offers of help.  While the majority of these people were sincere and giving, there were some who were looking for a fast buck or a way to take advantage of us.  The problem was we couldn’t tell the difference.  We were overwhelmed.

Thankfully we knew Sean Scott the creator of The Red Guide to Recovery.  Having the information that is now contained and organized in this publication, we were able to obtain some structure and organization to our lives.  We were able to find a temporary home to live in while we rebuilt.  We were able to intelligently deal with our insurance company.   We were able to meet and select from a group of talented and honest contractors.  In short, we were able to put our lives back together in a way that put us back in control of what was going on. In a relatively short amount of time we were able to collect our insurance and rebuild our home and our lives.  We have been living in the home for over a year now and are back to being our normal happy family again.

We can’t thank Sean enough for all he did to help us.  We have reviewed The Red Guide to Recovery and heartily recommend it to anybody who has gone through an ordeal such as we have.  The simple and practical steps that are covered can assist anybody even in a state of confusion.  The references and resources that are included provide a quick way to get in touch with emergency and governmental organizations.  This publication should be in the hands of anybody who has just suffered from a disaster or anybody that serves such people.

Dan & Denise Lamborn – Ramona, CA


Video: Radka Family Share Their Home Fire Experience