Imagine you're out of state with family, enjoying the holidays, and celebrating your little girl's 9th birthday, when you get a phone call that your home back in Lubbock is engulfed in flames. That was a reality for Suzette Smith, a disabled Lubbock mom, who is now literally left picking up the pieces.
Looking at a salvaged picture of her daughter on her blackened walls, Suzette says, "This is kind of our motivation to keep going. That's my little girl Nicole." Nine-year-old Nicole is the one bright spot in a home that is now dark with soot and charred remains. Fire destroyed the home belonging to Suzette and Nicole four days after Christmas, while they were visiting family in Chicago.
While walking toward what remains of Nicole's room Suzette says, "This is where basically the fire started in her room and as you can see it's just total devastation." And the fire didn't stop there, it moved to the living room, the dining room, and on to the kitchen. But nowhere in the house was the fire as intense as in little Nicole's room. Suzette says, "Everything is just charred remains. Here's her Candyland game, one of her favorite things she used to play."
Now that the initial shock of the fire is over, it's the clean-up that's overwhelming Suzette. Circumstances surrounding a recent divorce left her without insurance and with no way to pay for an estimated $150,000 in damages. Suzette is also legally disabled by a chronic pain syndrome. She fights back tears when she realizes exactly how much she has lost: "Everything is gone. It's so overwhelming."
After NewsChannel 11 talked with Suzette, she left with her brother for Chicago to pick up Nicole. In a few days, they will return to Lubbock alone. Suzette says, "I've got to come back and I don't have any help. I have no one here. My family is all out of state."
If you want to help Suzette and Nicole, neighbor Dana Stovall has graciously volunteered to take your phone calls. Her number is 632-0177. You can also call family friend Diana Brossman at 798-3292 . A fund has been set up for Suzette and her daughter at Plains Capital Bank and monetary donations can be made at any branch.