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Strangers Help Women Rebound After Fire Takes Apartment

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DES MOINES, Iowa --  It’s been a long week for Deborah Snyder.

“I need a Kleenex. That’s fine I got this,” said Snyder.

On Sunday she left her apartment to run a few errands.  When she got back home she found it on fire.

“She came out and told me my cat didn’t survive then I don’t remember anything,” said Snyder.

Snyder lost everything including her cat Xena.   To make matters worse she found out it was her own fault.  Snyder moved an ashtray from her patio to inside her apartment not knowing a cigarette was still lit in it.

Since then Snyder has been living at the Ramada by the airport in Des Moines.  Her insurance is paying for the room.

Afraid, scared and stuck in strange hotel, Deborah had a chance meeting with a 22 year-old hotel maid named Aaliyah Johnson.  Once Johnson heard her story, she knew she needed to do something.

“I took the last $10 I had and bought her some food and TV dinners and stuff,” said Johnson.

A hot meal was nice, but Aaliyah  quickly realized it wasn’t enough.

Snyder only had the cloths on her back and nothing else.

Aaliyah had no more money to give, so she went to facebook for help. 

“A lot of people started to reach out to me, saying they would go through their things and donated brand new things. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, razors and anything you can think of,” said Johnson.

The road back to normal won’t be easy for Snyder.  She was just diagnosed with Parkinson earlier this year. But for now she has a steady hand in Aaliyah to help guide the way.

“I’ve been there.  I’ve been homeless.  I’ve had the same thing she he had and I came up from there.  I’d want someone to help me out too,” said Johnson.

Snyder knows she put herself in this situation but hopes you can learn from her.  She says even though it should be common sense double or even triple check to see if that cigarette is out.