Deaf Couple Escapes House Fire: Their Story, Interview with Deaf Man Running for Mayor of Pennsylvania Town, Dutch Election Results, and Trump’s Travel Ban #2 Blocked.
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, March 16. Today’s show will be a little different - two big Deaf News stories and two quick news updates. Ready for it?
On Monday I reported about a house fire in Maryland — a deaf married couple lived in it and barely got out before the fire engulfed one side of the house.
The wife, Valerie DimitrijeVic, posted a vlog on her page that described what happened. It is a very touching story and I will share clips from her video.
Before I share, I want to say my report on Monday was based on a local news article, which had some errors - and I will make some clarifications now.
First — the Deaf couple are not the homeowners but lived there. Valerie’s husband’s name is Radisa. Their dog is not a service dog but a “normal pet.” They have three kids: two teenagers and a younger daughter, who was in the house at the time of the fire and escaped with the parents. The fire was on Sunday night.
Here is the vlog (by Valerie):
Valerie: I just want to summarize what happened with the house fire.
[Video of back of home burning]
I was inside the kitchen, cooking. My dog was with us. My daughter was upstairs taking a nap.
[Image of GraceJo]
The whole time I was in the kitchen, the dog was acting crazy. I thought he was just playing around.
[Image of Australian Cattle dog/Blue Heeler — Killian]
The dog was nudging against the back of my knees. I didn’t understand why — and thought it might be someone knocking on the door, but there was nobody there. The dog kept on barking and I looked up to see the smoke detector beeping. I knew it because I could smell it, but I couldn’t figure it out. I thought it might be the stove, but there was no smoke coming out of it. I then looked at the window — that time, my husband was gone, I couldn’t find him.
[Image of Valerie with her husband Radisa and dog Killian]
I looked out and saw smoke rising slowly. I immediately thought of those who were inside — my daughter, my husband, myself, my dog, two cats, and four goats in the garage. I ran out to the back porch to look at why the smoke was rising, since there was a propane tank there. There was a fire there. In the basement, but I knew my (older) daughter was not there — she went out.
I immediately went back inside and my dog was still running around. I opened the door that leads to the basement and smoke just came out and went down my throat. I shut the door and screamed, “FIRE!” My (younger) daughter heard it and ran out of the house. The dog was still pushing me, and before I didn’t understand why, but now I knew — it was trying to get me out of the house.
I then went to the garage to release my goats —
[Image of two goats]
They were temporarily staying in the garage. I let them out to go to the outside pen. I looked back to the house and saw my daughter outside at the front of the house and my husband outside at the back of the house.
The fire was just raging. When I was inside, the fire was at the basement. But by the time I was outside, it had already reached the third floor. Then the ambulance and fire trucks came — they got here after around 15-20 minutes.
[Video of fire blazing at back of house with firefighters putting it out with hoses. GraceJo is in the video near to the goats and the dog. She looks to the camera and signs something.]
We found out one cat died. We couldn’t find the second one, until the day later, we found the second one.
[Image of two orange/white cats lying next to each other]
My husband and I went to the hospital because of smoke inhalation. We got out of the hospital after around 7 hours, we were fine. When we came back to see the house, it was unlivable.
Nobody was at the home during the fire, so that’s a relief. I was thinking to myself, “God was protecting us. He used my dog.” My dog.
[Valerie calls Killian to come up on her lap. She pets him and says he is a hero. She pets and kisses him.]
He is definitely a hero. If not for him, things would be a lot worse. So, now — we lost everything. Everything. People have brought us some clothes. We trust God for [everything]. Our expectation is from God. Thank you for watching. I love you.
Alex: Wow, that is scary, that fire. Valerie added more details — when Valerie got out of the house to let the goats out, she saw his husband outside turning off the propane tank. Then he went back inside of the house to check if the other two older kids were inside. When he opened the older daughter (who was not home)’s bedroom — he said it was like hell — completely black with fire on the walls and ceiling, full of smoke. He went into the basement to check if the son was there — but fortunately he was not home.
The cause of the fire was electrical wires — something with the wires caused the fire.
It is very sad to see the impact a fire has on the family — with them losing their two cats and everything inside of the home. They say their insurance covers them, but they need help with food and clothes. They have set up a GoFundMe page, you can help them at the link below.
GoFundMe Page: http://bit.ly/2nJZWER.
A Deaf man is running to be Mayor of North Wales Borough — a small town/borough just outside of Philadelphia. His name is Neil McDevitt and he is a Democrat. I’ve reached to him for an interview about what his experience is like to run for mayor. Here it is!
Alex: Hello, can you introduce yourself?
Neil: My name is Neil McDevitt and I’m from North Wales, PA — it is close to Philadelphia. I’m one of the candidates to be the Mayor in the next elections: November 2017.
Alex: You’ve lived in North Wales for around 20 years. Can you tell us what it’s like there?
Neil: North Wales is one of the smallest towns in Montgomery County, PA. It’s close to Philadelphia. It has around 3,500, 3,400 residents. It is a very “American” small town with a main street with restaurants and businesses. I’ve lived in North Wales proper for 2 1/2 years, but I’ve lived in the area outside North Wales. A lot of people don’t realize this — North Wales has a nickname: “Deaf Wales.” It is because there are two big organizations that serve Deaf people here — the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and an organization that serves Deaf people of various needs — PAHrtners. Many of their staff live in the area.
I’m the executive director for Deaf-Hearing Communication Center in Swarthmore. I live north of Philadelphia while I work south of the city. So, DHCC has been here, we’re going to celebratie its 45th anniversary soon.
Alex: Wow, I didn't' ‘realize there are many Deaf people and Deaf services in the Philadelphia area.
Neil: I believe Philadelphia is underrated in many ways. We have a large percentage of Deaf people living in the area. We have many success stories and we have many challenges, too. But I think a lot of people tend to think of “certain cities” -- such as D.C., Austin, Rochester, or Fremont. People don’t realize Philadelphia is starting to come on its own — and we’re saying, “hey, we’re here.” I’m proud of that.
Alex: What is your campaign platform? What do you hope to do as mayor? I saw that you said you wanted to modernize the police department. Can you tell us more about that and your vision as mayor?
Neil: My vision of being the mayor — first you have to look at what the mayor’s role is. In a small town like this, it’s not like a big-city mayor or the President.
According to PA state law, the role of the mayor is this: Sign or Veto all of the Council’s passed proposals. Does the mayor have influence? Some, but the mayor doesn’t get involved in the proposal-making or debates process. Next is responsibility and oversight of the borough’s emergency management. This means if there’s a serious emergency — such as the blizzard yesterday — the mayor will establish emergency policies and tell people what to do. The mayor has oversight over the police department. So my strategy is to really emphasize my experience. Like I said earlier, I’m the executive director of a nonprofit organization for 2 1/2 years. It’s given me a lot of viewpoints on how to run an organization, work with others, and pick your battles. Where do you stand on your principles and where can you negotiate?
For many years I’ve worked in the emergency management field — worked for the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) for a year. Before that I worked for six years for a nonprofit organization in D.C. named TDI - Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. TDI got two federal grants from the Dept. of Homeland Security for training for emergency responders and for police officers — to educate them on how to respond to people of various disabilities, including Deaf/HoH. I’ve worked with police departments. I’m also a former volunteer firefighter for 7 years, I’ve interacted with the police and the fire department.
So I have an appreciation of police officers and their struggles, how they manage their jobs. I know people have issues and frustrations with the police department, but I don’t think people realize how committed the police are and how frustrated they are with various situations. So my role will be to carry over my experience with police and apply that to the police department here in North Wales. My strategy is to emphasize that, to show that I’m not simply someone who just pops up and “says hello!” I have experience, relevant experience that fits with the role of the mayor.
Alex: What is your campaign strategy? How do you get elected as mayor? What does that process look like?
Neil: Right now you caught me very early in the game. I just announced my candidacy. All of the paperwork was signed and sent a couple weeks ago, so it is still early in the game right now. We can talk in three, four months after the primary elections in May. When we are deep into the general election, my answer might be different. So right now it’s early to say. But at the same time, in a small borough, it’s really the same thing — which means to go to the people. Knock on doors, meet people, know what their concerns are. It means going to various events. For example, last night, I went to a fundraiser for a local fire department and I have to step outside of my comfort zone. Instead of saying, “Hello, my name is Neil,” — I have to say, “Hello, my name is Neil, and I’m running to be Mayor.” A lot of people don’t realize it’s tough to say that!
So, right now the strategy — I prefer to say schedule — when the weather gets warmer, I’ll go to doors, I’ll bring an interpreter with me, go to doors. I want people to get to know who I am, what my vision is, what my experience is — and go from there. Another challenge of being a Deaf candidate is that I have to raise more than hearing candidates would. So, that is a big issue, a big topic in my mind — how do I pay for an interpreter and all those things?
The battle for the election is “half the battle.” The other half is fighting for inclusion in the activities of the party. What I’m working on now is to advocate on the local level (they seem supportive), on the state level and the national level to put money where their mouth is. If they want to support inclusion, then they need to make funds and resources available to local parties, so Deaf/HoH people can ask for it. From what I know, I’m the first Deaf people to approach them and make the ask. What we need is for Deaf people, regardless if you’re a Democrat or Republican, to go to their parties — Democratic, Republican, Green Party, Libertarian — to tell them, “I need inclusion” — and go from there.
Alex: Thank you for your time. I’ll check with you in three or four months to see how you’re doing.
Neil: Thank you.
Alex: Thank you, Neil for your time. It is very interesting how small town politics works — and you can see that Neil / any Deaf person has an uphill challenge to become a political candidate — because you have to consider the cost of an interpreter. But nothing is impossible for us, right? I’ll update you all several months later on how he is doing.
Two quick news updates:
Results of the election in the Netherlands (Holland) — the incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte beat the far-right candidate Geert Wilders to win his third term. It was a relief for Europeans who were afraid that Wilders would win and “cause” more of Europe to be anti-immigration/anti-Islam.
While supporters of Wilders were disappointed, they were happy that his party — PVV (Party for Freedom) — won more seats in the country’s parliament. Wilders said the PVV would continue to rise in power in Holland.
Now eyes will go towards France’s elections and then to Germany — where Chancellor Angela Merkel will run for re-election.
Last night a federal judge in Hawaii blocked most of President Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban — the 90-day suspension of people coming from six Muslim-majority countries. The judge said Trumps’ ban was unconstitutional because it was religious discrimination against Muslims.
The judge allowed Trump’s plan to reduce the number of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 to take effect.
Then this morning a federal judge in Maryland also blocked the 90-day suspension of entry of citizens from 6 countries.
President Trump criticized the Hawaii judge — saying it was judicial overreach. Trump said the ban was for the safety and security of the U.S. He said the judge’s block makes us “look weak” and that he would fight the ruling.
That is all the news for this week. Tomorrow I will post a cool “Deaf Business Feature” in partnership with Convo. I’ll post it on Facebook and send it out to you all subscribers. Have a wonderful weekend and stay with the light!