By Zachary Daum
A family in Mascoutah has been hit with a great blow, as their rented home on Mine Road was severely damaged by the storm that occurred on Saturday, July 29. Nick Gipson, a 28-year-old California native, along with his partner Haley Mitchell and her 5-year-old daughter currently live in Mascoutah. Before, however, they previously lost their California home in the devastating Caldor Fire of 2021. The family had already seen considerable adversity, facing that problem alone. The recent storm brought another blow when a large tree branch crashed into their rented home, rendering it unlivable.
The incident, which occurred at 4:30 in the afternoon, turned an otherwise ordinary day into chaos for the family. The storm unexpectedly knocked the tree branch onto their rented trailer, causing a significant crack in the ceiling. Despite their hopes that the damage would be contained, another crack emerged, exacerbating the situation and forcing them to evacuate. Alongside the physical damage, the family also reported detecting a strange smell in the home.
Nick, who hails from California, recounted how their journey led them to Illinois due to Haley’s familial ties in the Mascoutah area. “She has family out here,” he shared, alluding to the support system that they’ve come to rely upon during their trying times.
Nick added that he has stayed with her family a few times since the damage caused, but that the Red Cross’s assistance was also instrumental, allowing them to afford to stay in a hotel temporarily, as well as purchase food.
Although receiving assistance from as many places as they could turn to immediately, it has not been enough. Not only were Nick and his family displaced from their rented home, but Nick also lost his job after missing work due to the hectic aftermath of his damaged home. With no renters’ insurance to cushion the blow either, the financial strain intensified. In a desperate attempt to make ends meet, Nick was asked by the trailer owner to personally address the roof damage, even though his capacity to do so was limited.
Amidst the tumult, Nick found solace and support from an unexpected source; his neighborhood. The incident brought neighbors together, with even previously strained relationships undergoing a transformation. “My entire community, almost everyone simultaneously helped,” Nick recounted. “My immediate next-door neighbor didn’t even get along until this happened. He offered up his house for us to stay in or to buy us food. The whole community came up to help.”
Expressing his frustration about the preventable nature of the incident, Nick revealed that he had repeatedly alerted his landlord about the troublesome tree branch. “I’ve been asking my landlord to cut down that specific branch since I moved in,” he stated. “I feel like something could have prevented this if they’d taken me seriously.”
The Mascoutah Fire Department issued this statement, “We were called for a smell of smoke. No smoke was found but the roof was damaged in a precious storm with a limb and some wiring inside was severed. A slight smell of burnt wiring (was noticed) but nothing else. We contacted city utilities to inspect, they disconnected service to the house as a precaution. The occupants are having it repaired tomorrow.”
Nick’s concerns about the timeline for repairs remain though, as the family’s financial constraints leave them uncertain about when the necessary work could actually begin, if at all. The mounting expenses, impending school supply costs, and the toll of frequent commutes of their young daughter to school all weigh heavily on Nick and his partner.
For anyone interested in assisting Nick and his family, they can be reached at (618) 940-4658.
Repairs have now begun on their home. Although they are still in need of assistance, they see some hope, after the severe roof damage caused by the fallen limb.