Since her family’s home — and everything inside of it — burned to the ground in July, Windermere resident Amy Jordan has kept a list of everyone who has offered or provided support in some way.
The dramatic fire — likely caused by multiple lightning strikes during an intense afternoon thunderstorm July 18 — captured the attention of their Windermere Club neighborhood and the West Orange community. As tragic as the fire was, it was no match for the outpouring of love — from a GoFundMe that launched even before the flames were extinguished to new dancing shoes and leotards for the Jordans’ two daughters — the Jordans experienced in the aftermath.
“The love that we’ve received from our community is unbelievable,” Amy’s husband, Brent, said.
Everywhere they turned, someone was offering food, clothes and even a whole house in which to stay. There were restaurant fundraisers, lemonade stands and clothing drives. The Jordans’ oldest son’s school community provided new uniforms and a replacement senior shirt, which also burned.
“They were things that seemed small and little that meant so much to the kids,” Amy said.
On July 18, almost nine years to the day of living in their Windermere Club home, the Jordans were on vacation when they started getting phone calls and text messages from their neighbors telling them their house was on fire.
Brent was on his way to join his family at the beach when he heard the news about his home.
“I got just west of Lakeland when my next-door neighbor called me and said, ‘Brent, your house has been struck by lightning, and it’s on fire,’” he said.
The fire began at about 4 p.m. Amy was at the beach with their two daughters and watched her home burn virtually through videos and photos online.
Later, during the insurance-claim process, the Jordans were told by an independent contractor that the home likely was struck by multiple lightning strikes within seconds.
The Jordans know this experience will be a life-changing one for their children.
“They’ve never witnessed anything like this,” Amy said. “And to be on the receiving end of such grace, such generosity and love and support from the neighborhood and the community and their church and their schools has really taught them how important it is to give.”
Brent and Amy both said they are incredibly grateful to the community for the support and acknowledge they are blessed to have a rental house with a space for their dog and room for the whole family.
Amy said the fire has made them realize how lucky they are to have the support system they do and has inspired them to want to reach out to other families who may be going through a similar situation.
The Jordans are not sure what the future holds for their family. They have considered rebuilding or buying another home. But they hope to keep the children in the same schools. For now, the family is breaking the process into smaller pieces to navigate the complexity of their situation.
But they do know this: All of it is manageable thanks to the love they have experienced daily since that stormy July day.
“It’s an overwhelming sense of … gratitude doesn’t capture the word,” Amy said. “It’s pretty amazing. And it really did lift us up.”