Riley Heruska
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This time of year is always accompanied by back-to-school chaos and stress, but no one understands that better than Plano resident Kathia Rodriguez and her family.

On August 6, 2017, this local family had their lives turned upside down. Rodriguez and her children arrived home from a trip to Austin, Texas, fairly late at night and were soon greeted by rain and thunder. Most of the family tried to sleep through it, but Rodriguez’s 14-year-old son stayed up to play video games.

“About 1:55 AM I heard a huge ‘bang,” remembers Rodriguez. “But I continued sleeping. Eventually, my daughters got scared and came to sleep with my husband and me. Then, a few minutes later, my son came to my room and said something smelled weird.”

Rodriguez got up to check on the house, and it appeared everything was okay. Then she went to look outside and check on her neighbors’ houses, and she was horrified to spot fire running rampant on the roof of her home.

“I immediately called 911, and they came right away, but the fire spread very quickly. The roof collapsed, and we completely lost our house due to the fire and water damage,” said Rodriguez.

News of the Rodriguez family tragedy spread throughout the Plano community after a Facebook post requesting prayers.

“That morning, as we were trying to save things from the house, so many people stopped to offer their help, water, lunch, prayers, gift cards, money, or just hugs,” said Rodriguez. “That’s the kind of community we live in, and we don’t want to leave anytime soon.

The family didn’t only have help from their immediate neighbors. Rodriguez’s best friend in Corpus Christi started a Go Fund Me page for the family, and a woman from Plano Moms offered assistance. Despite the difficulty of their circumstances, the Rodriguez family received help from various sources as they tried to recover.

With school starting in only a few days, Rodriguez had no idea how she would prepare her three children in time for the new academic year. New shoes and pencils? How can someone who just experienced a devastating fire even begin to think about a school shopping list? The family had just lost all of their possessions as well as their home, and Rodriguez felt helpless.

Then, thankfully, the Plano community made a miracle happen.

“Lots and lots of people gave me clothes, shoes, and school supplies for my kids,” Rodriguez says. “My best friend, my family, my coworkers at Hickey Elementary where I’m a Special Ed teacher, and my community members gave me so much support right before starting a new school year. I am so grateful for a community that wanted to help us in many ways and then continued helping.

The Rodriguez family plans to rebuild their home and continue living in the Plano community. Even though they suffered a terrible tragedy, they couldn’t be more appreciative of their hometown.

“I want everyone who helped my family to know how grateful I am,” said Rodriguez. “We feel love and support all over, and that’s why we want to stay in this wonderful community and city.”

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