HAMPSTEAD, NC (WECT) - They left before Hurricane Florence arrived, but something the Gadomski family couldn’t prepare for took everything they owned.
The family’s home in Hampstead burned down on Oct. 2, less than a week after they moved back in after evacuating for Hurricane Florence. Their home sustained minor damages from the hurricane, but they think an electrical fire in the attic sparked a fan that malfunctioned due to roof damage from the storm.
David Gadomski was leaving for work when he noticed smoke coming from the attic. He rushed his wife and three kids out of the house and as soon as they got out, the fire took over their home.
“With a fire, there’s no preparing." he said. "There’s no putting things in place, nothing all. It is just, escape with your life.”
That’s what the family did, running out with nothing but the clothes on their backs. They’re staying at David’s parents' home.
On Wednesday, the Gadomskis got their first look inside the home.
“The hurricane displaced some of our stuff and made some stuff wet and blew some stuff around, but the fire took everything,” David said.
There were a few things that survived. Some the kids' cherished stuffed animals, and their son’s first drawing.
“For Tyler, this was huge. The fact that he would even take the pen to the paper is just huge," David said. “This is on the wall and it is going back up there again.”
Tyler is David and Valerie’s autistic son who’s having arguably the toughest time of all the Gadomskis. Tyler’s room, according to his parents, was his “safe spot.”
“This was Tyler’s man cave right here, but it got a new skylight,” David said.
Maybe the most important thing the fire took from the family was an alarm system for every door and window in the house. It was set up to let them know if Tyler wandered out, which he does a lot.
“We have zero time anymore because he requires constant watching, constant,” Valerie said. “Florence damaged my life beyond repair. In one second, Mother Nature can take everything from you.”
The couple said they’re telling their kids they’re going to rebuild a big house where they can pick out whatever they want for their rooms.
“I try to be positive and say everything is OK," Valerie said. "Then, I fall apart later.”
A tarp now protects the few things that have survived in the house as the family prepares for the next storm, Hurricane Michael.
The family also wanted to thank Pender County firefighters, specifically members of Station 14 who responded.
The Gadomskis' neighbors have started a donation drive for them.