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01/13/2012

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Holly Sabiston

Thank you for publishing this excellent and sensitive article. I live in Austin, Texas, just a stone's throw away from last fall's national wildfire disaster where over 1000 homes were lost as the result of severe draught, 100+ temperatures, and wind. Several families I know lost everything, even though most of the fires took place in less densely populated areas. I don't know if any of those homes were hoarded.
Thankfully the community responded wonderfully to this tragedy, and is better prepared now. However, conditions still exist for uncontrollable fires to happen again, and what worries me most is the number of hoarded homes in-town, in high-density areas of the city, where wood frame houses are prevalent. I am in the AEC industry responsible for these issues in new construction, but there are a lot of existing buildings around that are very susceptible to fire. Both the neighbor next door and across the street are hoarders, and I frequently spot the telltale car or porch packed with papers or boxes.

My own mother, though not in Texas, is a hoarder in her 70s, and I have firsthand experience at the patience and perseverence it takes to coax her toward making positive changes for her own safety. I think it is of utmost importance that social service workers and first responders and have an understanding of this problem, and are trained to be compassionate and patient so as not to exacerbate the danger by triggering more anxious hoarding.

Thank you again for suggesting such sensible solutions to this important and pervasive problem.

T. Love

That is awesome Maryann that you're raising awareness in the Cape area! My mom is a hoarder and her house is a fire hazard, I reported it to the Lt. in Brockton, MA Fire Dept. Unfortunately, he could not do anything as she refused to let him into her house. :( He wasn't trained in hoarding issues but hopefully one day all 1st responders will be!

Maryann Murphy

This was a really useful article. So glad there is more attention being paid to this population! I am a member of my town's task force on hoarding (Mashpee, MA), and conducted trainings on hoarding for first responders (fire, police and EMTs). Increasing awareness of the issue can only help with facilitating solutions!
- Maryann Murphy, MSW
Professional Organizer
Specialist in Chronic Disorganization
www.maryannmurphymsw.com

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