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Displaced by fire, Hastings family receiving help

Tiffany Peine of the United Way of Hastings presents a check to the Tribe family. Pictured are Jason and Jeannie Tribe and their children, Emily, 15; Alex, 17; and Gabe, 11. Not pictured is Molly, 13. Star Gazette photo by Katrina Styx

On Feb. 19, Jason and Jeannie Tribe watched their home burn. Although the fire didn’t destroy the structure, it ruined most everything the family owned and forced them to suddenly find a new place to live.

Since then, there has been a huge outpouring of support for the family.

“Physically, we’ve been very blessed with plenty of help, plenty of donations,” Jason said.

They were able to find a place to rent and their four children were able to continue going to school. Thanks to the help of Jason’s coworkers, they’ve been given clothes, school supplies and funds to help the family recover.

Carolyn Seemann works with Jason at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear power plant. When she and other coworkers found out about the fire, they decided they wanted to do something to help. Seemann contacted Jason’s mother to find out what the most needed items were, then got to work collecting donations. Donation boxes were set up at the power plant, and she started a website where people from other communities who knew the family could also contribute.

The main focus, Seemann said, was to help the Tribe children get back into a somewhat normal life. Dominique Hanson, another coworker, bought new backpacks and school supplies. Others brought in clothing. All of it was done without Jason’s knowing.

“It’s a horrible, horrible thing to go through, and we were so happy that everyone got out alive, even the pets,” Seemann said.

They worked with the United Way of Hastings to make sure the funds were delivered to the family.

When Seemann told Jason about the donations, he was emotional, grateful and sincere.

“I remember, we discussed it over the phone and he said to me, ‘I wish I could hug you,’” Seemann said.

Donating was easy for his coworkers, though, and it took only minutes to think of ways to help.

“Jason would do the same thing for anybody else in the same situation,” Seemann said.

She’s also making sure that, as the shock of the fire fades, people don’t forget about the family.

“I want them to know they continuously have support,” she said.

The Tribe family has been overwhelmed by the support and is extremely grateful.

“I don’t think we understood what gratitude was (before the fire),” Jeannie said.

Now, the family is working to rebuild their home and their life. The house, built in 1880, will have to be rebuilt entirely on the inside, but the overall structure is still fine, Jeannie said.

“We’re slowly but surely getting back to normal,” she said.

The hardest part has been coping emotionally, Jason said. That, he said, he expects to get even harder as the family starts to take inventory of the things they’ve lost.

On a bright note, though, they did find some family photos that escaped damage in the basement. Water from firefighters’ hoses left most of the basement soaked, but these photos had been stored in a plastic container. Since they were protected and below the fire and smoke, some of the photos were able to be salvaged.

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