I woke up to news of you burning. I heard helicopters above my house and smelled smoke out my window. It took just a moment on social media for me to find out the details. There was a fire on State Street and it didn’t look good. By daylight, the State Street Saloon and all of 266 State Street collapsed.
As a Portsmouth resident, I’m so sad and heartbroken for the loss our city endured and will continue to endure. From the displaced residents of the apartments above who lost everything, to the employees and patrons of the saloon who aren’t sure where their next paycheck will come from–our city is hurting. The State Street Saloon Fire will leave a scar.
Yet, as a mother I am struck by something incredible. Since I have two kids, I’m always looking for good in our world. For examples of bravery, kindness and generosity so that my children will see that the forces of good are what win here. I want my daughters to see people living out what their father and I try to teach them. We want them to see it is more common for people to choose the light than the darkness.
And oh, my dear Portsmouth, you have chosen the light.
Thank you to the Firefighters of 44 surrounding communities, from Massachusetts to Maine, who responded to this 5 alarm blaze. Who saved an elderly resident in the early hours of the morning so no one was left behind.
Gratitude to the Portsmouth Police Department who accounted for every single resident of 266 State Street.
Thank you to Eli Sokorelis, owner of State Street Saloon, who – in the midst of this devastation – was able to say, “Nobody got hurt and that’s the important thing.”
Thank you to Sean Sullivan, co-owner of the Clipper Tavern. He was the first to spot the fire and call the fire department. Then, he left his tavern open for the rest of the night for the displaced residents to sit and, I imagine, mourn in wonder as their homes burned.
Cheers to Calvin from Starbucks in Market Square. Who, with a giant thermos strapped to his back, offered tired firefighters some much needed caffeine after a night hard spent.
A standing ovation for our beloved Seacoast Repertory Theater at 125 Bow Street for offering their lobby as a drop-off place for toiletries, gift cards and prepaid cell phones. They’re also donating a portion of their proceeds from an upcoming performance of I Could Just Diary. Residents of this city need our help now and will continue to need our help.
Giving thanks for crowdsourcing sites like this one that offer relief to State Street Saloon employees and displaced residents.
In awe of Ioanna Raptis’ photographs (from Seacoastonline) and her ability to capture the beauty in this harrowing and devastating moment for our town.
The power of social media overwhelms me when the (Un)official City of Portsmouth NH Facebook group becomes an incredible resource for people who lost everything and those who want to help them.
**Updates from April 14, 2017
Grateful that Weekender House offered to donate 10 mattresses to the folks who lost everything in the fire.
Thankful for Brie’s Boutique for providing a drop box for people to drop off furniture and other household goods our community members will need in starting over.
Still amazed by the Seacoast Rep with Brian Kelly and Kathleen Cavalaro at the helm. The Rep’s lobby is a “go-to” place for donations (gift cards, etc). If you are someone in need and can’t make it there email [email protected] with your information.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, Portsmouth. I know you and I see you. You are kind and brave and you are setting one hell of an example for my girls.
Thank you. I am so very glad we live here.