OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Picking up the pieces – dozens of Overland Park families are struggling to recover from last week’s eight-alarm fire that destroyed an apartment complex and more than 20 homes.
Sandra Bussell lives in a duplex on Bluejacket Street just blocks from CityPlace, where the fire began last Monday.
Burning embers from the massive blaze fell from the sky and onto Bussell’s roof. She and her two children were not home at the time, but they lost nearly everything.
“I actually saw my house on the news to know I was one of the ones,” Bussell said in an exclusive interview with Fox 4. “That was extremely devastating and emotional at the time.”
She returned Tuesday to salvage anything she could.
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“The actual house itself, due to the damage, is considered totaled,” she said, “and will have to be taken down to the studs to rebuild.”
Her ceiling is now on the floor and all her belongings are now trashed.
“We’re in cleanup now for any salvageable items,” Bussell said. “But again, between the smoke and the fire, the water to put it out, and just you can start to smell the decay occurring and every day gets worse.”
It’s a difficult sight for the single mother of two, as she examines the damage inside the first home she ever bought on her own.
“Where did it all go, and how long is it going to take to get it back?” she asked. “How does it happen? I don’t understand all this. I take it a little personally, like anybody would. Why me?”
Bussell said each day is a roller coaster of emotions, as she must deal with insurance claims and live out of a hotel with little to no possessions.
“Sickness,” she said her emotions. “I’m just sick. I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed.”
While it’s painful, she’s thankful she, her kids and her pets made it out safely. She’s also thankful to all those – friends, family, neighbors, strangers – who’ve helped her along the way.
“Just the outpour of support,” she said, “I can’t thank everybody enough. I want to make sure everybody knows how much I appreciate what they’ve done for me.”
Bussell plans to move out of her hotel and into a temporary home with her children and pets Wednesday. She one day she hopes to rebuild on the same lot her home burned down.