Pictured: Brett and Brittney Granger and their family receives a list from the Red Cross. Red Cross volunteers partnered with the local food bank to bring in food to those who needed it in high impacted areas.

It was a scene that could have played out in almost any American home on a Tuesday night: Mom is at the stove cooking chicken pot pie from scratch while her three children sit at the dinner table coloring with crayons and Dad is puttering around the house.

But for Brittney and Brett Ganger of Orange, Texas, this was not a typical Tuesday.  Within seconds, their mobile home was struck by a tornado, part of a storm system that swept across southeastern Texas and southern Louisiana on January 24. Officials estimate more than 100 homes were damaged and thousands were left without power in just Orange County, alone.  Fifteen of those homes, including the Granger’s, received severe damage.  However, the good news is that the family escaped injury and that their friends and neighbors, including the American Red Cross, came quickly to their aid.

Brittney Granger says her family was fortunate that everyone was home at the time the tornado struck.  Because of the threat of bad weather, the schools had been closed and her husband had returned home from his job as a boilermaker in nearby Louisiana.

“The kids were at the dinner table and my husband was out into the hallway,” Brittney Granger said. “Then I started screaming at the kids to get to my closet.  When I got to the door of my closet, my bedroom widow busted. We were all just hunkered down, holding on to each other and praying.” 

Amidst the sounds of things breaking all around her, Brittney said she felt their home move off its foundation. Then trees fell into the master bedroom. “We were in the closet,” Granger said. “And then it was done. It felt like my life was completely destroyed.”

The family spent that night at her mother’s home. However, it didn’t take long for the Orange County community to come together to help the victims of the horrendous storm. Granger said a local charity that calls itself “The Old Bittys” called in the Red Cross.

“The Red Cross was sitting in my driveway before I ever made it back to my house from my Mom’s the next day,” she said. “The guys were great. They actually helped my husband back my cousin’s camper into our yard.”

The Red Cross provided the Granger family food, supplies and helped connect them with resources necessary to help them get back on their feet. For the time being, they are staying in their cousin’s trailer so their three children can get back to school and have some sense of a normal life.

“It’s crazy,” Granger said. “Life is good and then, suddenly, you are homeless?”

But despite it all, the Grangers still have each other and the knowledge that organizations like the “Old Bittys” and the American Red Cross are there to lend them a helping hand during their time of greatest need.

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information about volunteering or contributing to the Red Cross’s mission, please call 1-800-RED-CROSS, visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Story by David Guth