By Andrew Marciello
FSU English professor Ian Williams recalls the events that transpired three months ago at his downtown apartment: “There was a banging on the door and fire alarms going off as a fireman rushed us out of the building.”
He was unsure how to react to a massive fire burning down the Johnsonia building where he lived. “People were outside being jovial and making jokes as a defense mechanism,” Williams said. “A few people took out their cell phones and were making videos, which I felt was almost insensitive. Everyone reacts in their own way.”
The flames continued to engulf the top floors of this recently renovated apartment building, not claiming any lives but destroying most of the possessions of the tenants. This fire itself was a traumatic event for the residents, but most of the news coverage stopped after it had been put out.
Williams described how tenants weren’t allowed to see their rooms or get any valuable possessions until two days after the incident, and then they only had 15 minutes under the supervision of a fireman. And from that point on they have been kept out of the building.
The amount of time that these people have been prevented from rescuing their possessions has most likely led to further deterioration of hundreds of thousands if not even into the millions of dollars. As such the situation has led to several lawsuits in place, but for the most part people were happy just to get out alive.
FSU English professor Tom Murray, also a victim of the fire, describes how if FSU had not offered faculty and staff lodging in the dorms for a few weeks, they would have had to make a decision about where they would go in their lives in about 72 hours. Murray described how all you can do is just find the best way to move forward and progress in your life.
Williams attempted to find a fitting metaphor for the emotions he felt in those following weeks. “It was almost as if you got life threateningly sick, that feeling of losing everything, and then when you get better, you see things differently.” Many of the victims of this fire were left with nearly nothing, having to start over completely
Unable to really spin it a positive event, Williams tries to describe the way that he has perhaps changed or grown. “You realize what’s important, and forget about the stupid things, the smaller things,” Williams remarks. “You certainly learn a little bit about yourself.”