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After rough year, family grateful for 'a lot of good people in Salisbury'

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
No one would blame Marilyn “Lyn” Adrian and her family if they packed up and headed back to their hometown in Florida.
A year ago, her North Lee Street house burned to the ground. She, her son, Tom, now 22, daughter, Cassandra “Sassy,” now 14, and their 12 dogs barely made it out. Her oldest daughter Danielle “Dannie,” now 21, was out of town at the time of the fire a few days before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20.
Adrian’s father, Robert Houston, of New York, had been renting a home on East Lafayette Street, where the family now stays.
The family moved into the home and on Thanksgiving day someone broke in, taking all of the things that had just been donated to the family.
“Everything had been graciously donated by the people of Salisbury,” Adrian said.
She said she’d also replaced some of her son’s electronic items including his Xbox, VCR and DVD player, all of which were taken during the break-in.
The Salisbury Fire Department held a drive to collect items for the family. On Christmas Day, someone broke into the home, again taking items that had been donated. Her truck and son’s vehicle were also broken into. The thief took the family’s clothes and two of their dogs.
“At this point I was tempted to move. I thought about moving because I was so hurt,” she said.
Adrian says she knew who broke into the house. It was the same person who broke in on Thanksgiving. But police told her they did not have enough evidence to arrest the person, Adrian said.
“A friend of mine found out who did it,” Adrian said.
“I felt more of a victim when the break-in happened than when I had the fire,” she said.
Adrian was supposed to be in Florida that day for a doctor’s appointment.
She was traveling back and forth from Salisbury to Florida to see doctors who are treating her for fibromyalgia, a disease that leaves her in chronic pain. She’d also been dealing with an old injury from an accident.
In the midst of all the disastrous things that have happened to Adrian and her family, the state dropped her disability benefits.
“It was just unbelievable,” she said.
This time last year was not pleasant, she said.
“The holidays sucked,” Adrian said.
She sent her youngest daughter, Sassy, to Connecticut to finish her school year. Her oldest daughter, Dannie, was also in Connecticut. Tom stayed in Salisbury with Adrian.
“I feel blessed, but like I’m being tested by my faith,” Adrian said.
She is also blessed to know that her son, who normally is a hard sleeper, was not asleep when the fire began. He was up and alerted the rest of the family.
The fire was caused by old wiring in the walls. The family had been replacing old wiring in the house, which was built in 1910.
They’d already repaired other wires and were supposed to repair that area that weekend.
About 30 minutes before the fire, Adrian smelled smoke and heard a popping sound, thinking it was the circuit breaker.
The fire shot up through the wall, cutting the dining room in half.
Sassy said she is just happy to be alive.
“As soon as we got out of the house the windows busted,” she said.
Sassy, her mother and brother had just reached the sidewalk when the heat from the fire shattered the windows.
Now that Thanksgiving is here again Sassy reflects on what she has.
“I’m happy to be back with the rest of the family. Things happen for a reason,” she said.
Sassy doesn’t get mad at the person who stole all of her family’s items, twice.
“I think everything happens for a reason,” she said.
But she would like to know why.
“I don’t see why someone would do that. Who would steal stuff from people who need it. That’s just wrong in every way you can think of,” she said.
Tom said family is irreplaceable.
“Items can be replaced, people can’t,” he said.
Adrian keeps the Salisbury Post article on the house fire folded up inside her purse.
“It reminds me of what’s good,” she said.
She’s reminded of how bad the fire was and how she could’ve lost her family and pit bull, Max, in the fire.
Max was missing for sometime during the fire and presumed dead. Salisbury Fire Capt. Rick Fleming found the dog in the kitchen, covered in soot.
Adrian said the family was so happy to see him alive they didn’t realize how serious his injuries were.
Shortly after the fire, Max’s hair began falling out in clumps. He’d been burned on his ears and other parts of his body.
Today, Max is healthy and happy.
The current house they are living in needs lots of repairs. Adrian’s father actually bought it as a “fixer-upper.”
Since her home burned because of old wiring, she plans to replace all of the wiring in the current home.
There are other things that need to be repaired or replaced, she’ll do them when she can.
She didn’t have insurance on her Lee Street home but wants to rebuild there someday.
The fire has left Adrian with severe anxiety. She’s afraid of fire. She gets nervous if she smells smoke. Every night before her family heads for bed, Adrian unplugs all of the appliances and checks the house. It may annoy her children, but she looks at it as her insurance.
There are some things Adrian is excited about, including starting classes next year at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.
In January, Adrian will study criminal psychology. She jokes that she has plenty of experience already since she’s been a repeated victim of crimes.
Her son has attended RCCC for automotive training and daughter Dannie is going for psychology.
“I’m going back to school to advance my education so I can excel in providing for myself and family,” Adrian said.
Adrian is thankful to the Pregnancy Support Center, which donated a Thanksgiving meal to the family. Dannie is seven months pregnant.
“Things are tough, but we have each other. We don’t let the little things bother us. We don’t let it get us down,” Dannie said.
She said the family tries to stay positive.
“That’s the only way you are going to make it through. At least I have a roof over my head,”she said.
Although Dannie was not home at the time of the fire, she lost all of her belongings as well.
She was in Connecticut with her then boyfriend, who was going to bring her home that morning. She received a phone call from Sassy who told her not to come.
“She said, ‘Don’t come, the house is on fire,’ ” Dannie said.
She thought her sister was joking until she received a picture sent to her cell phone of her home on fire.
Although Thanksgiving is taken care of, Adrian is concerned about what she’ll do about Christmas.
“I don’t have plans for Christmas. I need help with Christmas,” she said.
The family has lived in Salisbury for five years and is thankful to the people who helped out when they needed help.
She understands there are a few bad apples, but she’ll remain in the place she’s known as home for the last several years.
“There’s a lot of good people in Salisbury,” Adrian said.

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