Fire destroys Elmont home but not family’s spirits
A Civil War-era farm home in Elmont was the meeting ground for Dianne and Jim Tuck’s 14-member family for Wednesday and Sunday night dinners.
The couple lived in the two-story home for three decades, welcoming their children and friends alike. Often, after work, daughter Natalee Tuck and her husband joined their 2-year-old daughter, parents and two brothers along with their families every Wednesday for “family fun time.”
Nathan and Chris Tuck sort through rubble at their family home in Elmont, which was destroyed in an Aug. 7 blaze. (Photo contributed by Natalee Tuck)
“That’s what makes [my parents] happy,” Natalee said. “Surrounding themselves with people they love.”
Last week, the tradition came to an abrupt halt. Wednesday, Aug. 7, the door that’s always open went up in flames with the rest of the house leaving only a pile of rubble, metal scraps and brick chimneys behind.
Hanover Fire/EMS received a call reporting the fire around 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. When emergency units arrived, flames had already engulfed the entire family home.
Fortunately, at the time of the fire, Jim was off running an errand while Diane and Natalee were at Maymont Park with the kids.
But the Tuck homestead was open to more than family members. Some nights up to 25 people, a mix of family, friends and neighbors, could be found enjoying mother Dianne’s cooking, Natalee said.
If someone walked through the Tucks’ door, they would be fed, whether it was off the grill or from her mom’s garden, Natalee said.
Despite the loss of the home, the Tuck family is keeping their spirits up.
When Natalee and her family arrived at the scene, she said they made light of the tragic situation. She said her father made jokes and kept the family laughing.
“We all have definitely shed tears, but we’ve laughed a lot more than we’ve cried,” Natalee said.
The Tuck family’s story has impacted the community. Many are opening their hearts, arms and wallets to the Tucks giving their time and donations in the forms of money, clothes and toiletry items. Local businesses Thrill of the Hunt and Waves Hair Studio have been collecting donations.
A family friend created a Give Forward site on the day of the fire and since then has raised $3,137 of a $3,500 goal. A Facebook paged called “Help the Tuck Family” was also created to get out the word.
“My heart is so full, it hurts,” Natalee said in regards to the community’s efforts to reach out to her family. “It’s overwhelming. It’s wonderful.”
But the story of the Tuck family house will not end with rubble and remains. Another home will be built on the Elmont site. Natalee said the family is hoping to have a new roof over their heads in a “minimum of six months.”
Meanwhile Jim and Dianne have a place to stay, supplied by their insurance company, until they can open their kitchen and home to anyone with an appetite.