All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for June 2003

In need of a place to call home

Thursday, June 5, 2003
By Diana Hefley
Herald Writer

Teri Michaud was stuck on her front porch as a fire ate away at the back of her house on Friday.

A stranger helped her to safety.

"I couldn't get down, and a man on a bicycle rode by and offered to help," said Michaud, who is a quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair. "I don't even know his name."

The good Samaritan rolled her down the steep stairs as flames shot out of the house where Michaud lives with her 12-year-old daughter, Lili.

The fire started in a clothes dryer, blazed through the laundry room and quickly extended to the attic. Firefighters had to cut into the roof to extinguish the blaze in the 1600 block of Scenic Drive.

Michaud, 44, could only watch from across the street, worrying what she would tell her daughter. The girl was on the bus to school when she saw smoke coming from her house.

"They wouldn't let me off the bus. A counselor had to tell me," Lili said.

"She was so scared," said Michaud, who broke her neck after falling out of a car at age 16. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis about seven years ago.

The stranger's kindness has been the only bright spot in the difficult days following the fire. Michaud, who is unable to work, did not have renter's insurance and lives on a fixed income.

The fire caused as much as $50,000 in damage to the house, which had been modified to accommodate her and her wheelchair. Michaud has lived there for 13 years.

She and her daughter can't live in the house until the roof and the only entrance with a ramp are fixed. Michaud wonders how the repairs will be get done. She doesn't have the money. Nor does the owner of the home, Michaud said.

"I've had friends volunteer to help, but it's going to take a professional -- someone with a license," she said. "I just don't know how it's going to get fixed."

The American Red Cross of Snohomish County provided Michaud and her daughter a room at a nearby extended-stay motel for a week. They were able to recover some clothes and other personal items.

Family and friends have volunteered to house Michaud and her daughter, but their homes aren't equipped with a wheelchair ramp or special shower. So Michaud has been desperately trying to find an apartment or motel that she can afford and access.

But so far she hasn't found anything.

"We need to be out on Friday. I don't know where to go," she said through tears. "I've been calling around everywhere. I sit by the phone and wait. I'm going to be homeless."

Copyright © 2003 The Daily Herald Co.