Shortly after 11 a.m. on June 14, a barking dog drew the attention of Banda and her husband, Kevin, to their deck. When they opened the blinds, they saw their deck was on fire.
For two hours, firefighters from Coopersville, Chester Township and Robinson Township battled the fire before containing it. Banda, Kevin and their now-16-month-old daughter made it out safely.
Her father and 11-year-old son also lived at the home, but they were not there when the fire started.
Although left with very little, the community encouragement leaves her speechless. She said the amount of support has been as nearly overwhelming as the actual tragedy.
“I don’t know if there’s words for it,” Andrews said. “It’s so amazing. You never know you mean anything in the grand scheme of things.”
Community members donated clothes and household items such as beds and furniture.
Andrews said that nearly everything in the new home has been donated.
In late June, a spaghetti dinner raised enough money for the family to have money for a security deposit on a new home.
“I never imagined there would be that much support,” Andrews said.
Coopersville-Polkton Fire Chief Scott Schoolcraft said officials were unable to determine the cause of the fire.
“It was a complete loss,” he said.
The homeowners did not have insurance.
As the family prepared to pick up the pieces of their life and start fresh, they salvaged a few items from the charred remains.
The Xbox gaming system, games and a few movies were among the surviving items. Those were sparred because the roof over their bedroom was only partially collapsed.
“(It’s) just unbelievable,” Andrews said. “Those are irreplaceable.”
In the days following the loss, the family stayed with family friends. She said there was only one place she wanted to go when things became overwhelming.
“Honestly, I just wanted to go home, but I didn’t have a home to go to,” she said.
The most challenging part stemming from the tragedy has been the emotions and comforting her son, she said.
“My son is still emotional about missing his house and his things,” Andrews said. “We are working very hard to make our new house home to fill with things he can enjoy. Everyone else is taking it in stride. We’re more resilient.”
The highlight of the past several months was when they received keys to their new home.
Andrews said the steam-cleaned carpet didn’t have time to dry before they started walking around and planning where they could put things.
“Having a space to call your own to call home is the best feeling in the world,” she said.