Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Turn of Events Day after Family Loses House to Fire, They Win Van in Drawing

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Turn of Events Day after Family Loses House to Fire, They Win Van in Drawing

Article excerpt

The last thing Debbie Powell was thinking about on June 15 was winning a 1997 minivan in a drawing at Mid Rivers Mall.

She entered the contest a couple of weeks earlier and had been informed that she was one of 25 finalists of 20,000 to enter.

To win, however, one had to be present for the drawing.

Debbie and her husband, David, had other things on their mind on June 15. The day before, their $200,000 house in the Wentzville-New Melle area was gutted by a fire while they were at work.

Their two daughters, Leah, 13, and Lana, 8, were in Florida with Debbie's mother.

"We're really grateful that the girls weren't home," Debbie said Monday. "I was told the fire started at 9 a.m., and they probably would have still been asleep upstairs."

Debbie and David Powell work for the MK-Ferguson Co. in Weldon Spring. Their neighbors didn't know how to reach them at first; by the time the couple arrived home, the fire had done much damage.

Very little inside the house could be salvaged. The girls' two cats, Slyvester and Fluffy, were killed, as were two pet birds. Their dog, Sammi, escaped.

"What wasn't damaged by the fire was damaged by the water," Debbie said. "Our oldest daughter's bedroom was completely gone."

Their State Farm insurance agent, Dan Day of Lake Saint Louis, spent that Friday with the Powells. They salvaged what they could that afternoon and checked into the Holiday Inn in Wentzville that night.

"We were sitting there that night, and I told Dave that we were so lucky that the girls weren't home," Debbie said. "It could have been so much worse."

She then thought about the contest at Mid Rivers Mall the next day. There was no way they would go to that, she thought.

However, the Powells realized they didn't have any clothes left. They decided to buy new clothes at the mall and wait for the drawing in the Dads and Grads celebration, which was being billed as the biggest giveaway in Mid Rivers Mall history.

After some entertainment, a young girl pulled Debbie's name out. St. Peters Mayor Tom Brown announced the winner's name and congratulated the Powells.

Debbie Powell said she had trouble with the irony of the series of events: she learns that her home burned at 10:30 on a Friday morning and then wins a $22,500 Plymouth Grand Voyager the next day at 2 p. …

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