Expressing gratitude towards the close knit community in the college town of Houghton

Aditya Joshi, Lode Writer

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When Michigan Tech states “We Inspire Community” as their first value statement they are not kidding. It’s not just them but also the people of Houghton that take it upon themselves to uphold the values of community, irrespective of who needs it. In the fall this semester there was a night of horror that a group of seven tech students had to experience and I happen to be one of them. On the night of October 15, 2018, there was an incidence of fire in a residence on Blanche Street in Houghton, right across the J. Robert Van Pelt and John and Ruanne Opie Library at Michigan Tech.
A small fire in the attic had taken a toll; with the mattress in flames, the fire in the bedroom became uncontrollable. If it had not been for the calculator which Ganesh Masagani, the occupant of the room, returned home, for none of the 5 tenants would’ve survived to know about the fire. In this state of panic and fear, emergency measures were taken and the fire department summoned to help control the fire.

The firefighters were at the location in less than 6 minutes, after which the serious implications of the fire began to unravel for the victims. It was terrifying to watch their small world that they carried across the globe turn to ashes. All of the survivors of the fire happen to be international students at tech, arriving from the Republic of India pursuing diverse engineering majors.
“The courage of the whole department made sure that the fire was contained with a minimal loss to our personal belongings. I know these are just words but they do carry our feelings of how grateful we are to your department,” said Shreyans, a victim, while addressing the Fire Department in his note of Gratitude.

The response time of the Fire department was phenomenal. Their help goes beyond just being the mighty flamens controlling the Roman Vulcan. They helped the survivors in safely retrieving their belongings after the fire, and helping the victims moving it to their rehabilitation. Whatever was left from the fire suffered minimal water damage because of the fire department’s quick response time in letting the students re-enter the house.

The alumni septum are grateful for the generous financial assistance received from the Fire Relief fund set up by the fire department and the police department of Houghton, Michigan. This has definitely laid off some financial pressure from the loss experienced by the fire.

But it wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most generous assistance received by the victims, from the office of Michigan Tech Housing. It has to be acknowledged that they have gone above and beyond in order to help the students in an immeasurable extent. Their help was offered in no time. The time of the incident being way later than office hours, it was worth noting that Travis Pierce, the director of Housing and Residential Life ran to give help at the same time as the fire department’s response time.

He consoled and swiftly offered temporary shelter at one of the suites at the Wadsworth Residence Hall. Along with him, it is worth mentioning that the rest of the Housing staff team, which includes Sean Brown, Benjamin Petrie, Abby Moss and Alicia O’Grady, really took care not to exacerbate any sense of discomfort post-fire right until getting rehabilitated in Daniell Heights.
The seven students feel indebted towards Patricia Bennett, Courtney Archambeau and all of the Housing staff helping in the background in making sure that everyone received food and shelter during their test of time. The residents of Houghton and their friends at Michigan Tech have been really helpful in lending their hand at times of despair without any hesitation.
“We would also like to thank everyone at Michigan Tech that made sure that our academic success was least affected during the panic and anxiety after the fire,” said Vinayak Kamat, another victim of the house fire.

“The amount of help and assistance received emotionally, physically and monetarily has made our loss seem minimal,” mentioned Pratik Bhalla, another survivor, when asked about his feelings towards the loss he experienced. Nitin Ingale, another occupant of the affected house said that “Michigan Tech has definitely held up to its values of Community, Possibility and Tenacity. This is something that this incident made me realize.”

Being one of the survivors, I would agree with all of the statements made by my ex-housemates who had to go through the terror of watching their small world turn to ashes. It has been a semester with interesting events but through all that, it was because of all these people that stood behind us that we survived our loss. We would like to devote this article in gratitude to all the people mentioned and the ones not mentioned that helped us through the horrible accident that all seven us had to experience.

*Note: this article ran on 11/15/2018