Community lifts up fire victim
Norman “Tootie” Fogg lost nearly everything on Nov. 29, 2018 when his home on Williams Street in Boothbay Harbor caught fire. He was able to grab his little rescue dog Squirt and rush of the home with only the clothing he was wearing. Since then, Fogg said, “It's like being in a black hole, not knowing which is top or bottom, or how to get out.” Only through the kindness of friends and strangers alike has he some hope now for rebuilding his life in Boothbay Harbor.
After showing up on the doorstep of friends Ruth and Alan Watts of Trevett, the 79-year-old has been facing the day to day challenges of getting back on his feet. The Red Cross provided housing for the first three nights. He stayed with the Watts for the next week.
Ruth Watts reached out to others for help in finding a better temporary living situation for Fogg including a call to Debrah Yale of West Boothbay Harbor. According to Melissa Neel, vice president of operations at Boothbay Harbor Country Club, Yale then reached out to Paul Coulombe. Soon after, Neel received the go-ahead to find Fogg a place to stay in one of the many properties she manages for Coulombe. She thoughtfully settled on a large one-story apartment in the building once occupied by the Boothbay Region Land Trust offices on Townsend Avenue. Neel shared, “We wanted the transition to be as easy as possible. The apartment has no stairs and even has a small yard for Tootie’s dog.”
Fogg said he’s “overwhelmed by the support of our little town. Being from Connecticut you just don’t see people willing to take care of each other like this.” Sitting in the living room of his temporary apartment, he welled up a little talking about those who collected clothing, the ladies at the food pantry who make a fuss when he stops in, and all the friends including the Wattses who lend a helping hand and an open heart as he continues to deal with the loss of his home.
The insurance company recently settled his claim. The trailer he had lived in since 2002 was nearly 60 years old and there is a big difference between the insurance company’s settlement for the loss and what it will take to replace the home. Fogg’s ex-wife, daughter and 1-year-old granddaughter live in Florida and his son is based in Connecticut. He’s in communication with them but they don’t have the resources to help in the rebuilding of his home.
His temporary housing the Boothbay Harbor Country Club and Coulombe have provided are exceptionally comfortable, but he misses his neighborhood and his gardens. Fogg is eager to get home by spring. Last week, E. M. Wood Construction cleared the debris from the site. Fogg made sure to mention he was grateful to everyone there as well for working with him on demolition costs.
This week, Fogg takes the next steps. He has an appointment with Hannah Corkum, community navigator for Boothbay Region Community Resources Council, to see if there are programs he might qualify for assistance through including Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together. He also has a trip planned to meet with a manufactured home dealer in Warren about possible used homes for his land.
The idea of starting over at 79 is overwhelming but Fogg is hopeful. "I keep thinking where do I go from here. I try to remember there’s always someone worse off.”
Fogg’s immediate needs are met but there is a need for financial support to get a mobile home or other living structure quickly built on his land. There is an account set up at the First National Bank of Damariscotta for anyone able to make a contribution.