Wilmette, News

GoFundMe for family displaced by Wilmette house fire nears its goal

GoFundMe campaign raises thousands to offset family’s temporary relocation, smoke damage removal

An ordinary Valentine’s Day morning turned into one of terror and panic for the Storm family when their rental home at 1026 Timber Lane in Wilmette was set ablaze by an electric blanket. 

The fire was reported at 11:04 a.m. Feb. 14 and was contained to one room, The Record previously reported.

Fortunately, all adults, children and pets made it out safely, but the following month has been a daily nightmare for the Storms, who are originally from Kenilworth.

Mom, Jennifer Storm, put her pride aside and reached out to her neighbors and friends for support by spearheading a $15,000 GoFundMe campaign, hoping to offset just a handful of the costs the family is now facing. 

Within days of launching the campaign, the donations and messages of love and compassion filled the Storms’ account and hearts.

Currently, $13,940 has been raised on the GoFundMe page by 118 donors.

Storm explained the many ways the community support has positively impacted her family during such a difficult time.  

“The fact that so many have been willing to help us out is incredibly meaningful to my family,” Storm said. “Nothing can diminish the gratitude I feel that our family got out of the house safely, but regardless, the last month has been a nightmare for our family. The costs associated with this whole ordeal, particularly because we were renters, not owners, have been astronomical.”

Storm added they have “very little control” over any decisions with the home.

“We are truly sitting in limbo trying to dig ourselves out of the situation,” she said.

Since the house is uninhabitable because of smoke damage, the Storm family is staying in a local hotel, accruing daily living expenses. All the while, their children manage hybrid learning platform in which half their classes are on Zoom.

In addition, there are complications with insurance and more.

“I can’t even begin to tell you how daunting this task is. Not only the exorbitant expense, but the stress of moving out all our belongings for professional cleaning, then moving all those items back in is completely overwhelming,” Storm said.

While Storm has searched for alternate solutions, the final say of when the family can move back in is up to the homeowner and the insurance policy. 

As of press time, the decision has not been settled, contributing to the Storm family’s new reality. 

“I simply cannot explain how difficult this whole situation has been,” Storm said. “I don’t think we could get through this without the support we’ve received from friends, family and the community. Even my son’ s advisory at New Trier has helped to spread the word. This all means so much to us.” 

Looking back, Storm said she has advice for everyone now.

“Please, if you rent, make sure to have insurance. If you have an electric blanket, throw it out now. Lastly, make sure you have an escape plan. I can’t tell you how quickly the black smoke filled the house,” she said. “We are lucky this happened in the morning when most of us were awake and able to get out. I never want another family to share our experience.”

To contribute to the Storm family’s GoFundMe campaign, click here.

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Alexa Burnell

Alexa Burnell is a Wilmette resident who has been covering the North Shore for the past seven years, previously for The Wilmette Beacon and its sister newspapers.

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