Co-workers lend a helping hand to Killona worker
Ashley Loupe’s injuries are healing, but her journey to get herself back to normal and pain-free has just begun. Loupe, who has worked at the Entergy Waterford 3 plant in Killona for the past six years, suffered major burns in a March 15 house fire that has required skin grafts to her affected areas, which included her face, ear, neck, leg and arms.
“It’s a day by day process,” said Loupe’s mother, Norma. “Pain wise, some spots are more unbearable for her than others.”
Loupe was cooking dinner at her home when a grease fire broke out. Acting on her first instinct, she put on her oven mitts and attempted to bring the pot where the fire began outside, Norma said.
“Something happened at that point … I believe she slipped,” Norma said. “The grease just went backwards on her and covered her.
“My granddaughter ran over to me, screaming … I hurried up and got her away. Ashley walked outside, and she was in shock. She was saying her skin was falling off.”Norma and a neighbor got Loupe into a bathtub and used cold water to treat her. Norma went back to the burning home and said “it was near impossible to see anything.”“I threw the pot outside. There was nothing left (burning inside of it),” she said. “It was so black up in there. I don’t know how she even made it as far as she did. To see her at first, you wouldn’t have thought the injuries were as severe as they were, but later on, the damage revealed itself.”
Loupe underwent four surgeries in a little over a month following the fire.
After almost three weeks in the hospital, she was able to return home on April 4.
Norma said the last surgery, which Loupe underwent April 17, went well and Ashley can finally shift her attention to healing and readying herself for therapy. She said Ashley suffered burns “from her finger tips to where her sleeveline starts on both arms,” behind her right ear, underneath her chin and neck and on the right side of her face.
“Healing is taking its time,” Norma said. “Everything has to be changed every day. We’re taking care of her, but with what she’s dealing with, it’s around the clock.”Mentally, there are similar hurdles to overcome. Norma said Ashley has suffered from anxiety since the fire, requiring medication, part of it stemming from personal regret as to how she handled the situation.
Norma said her daughter is being too hard on herself. “When the pain gets so bad, she thinks, like, she shouldn’t have tried to put it out,” Norma said. “But it’s your first reaction … I’d have done the same thing. You don’t think the way of, ‘Okay, this is what you’re supposed to do at this time’ when a fire suddenly breaks out. Your first reaction is to do it yourself and take care of it.
“If you could do it over, sure, you’d do it differently. You wish you could. After what I’ve seen (with Ashley), you can afford to lose material things. I could have done away with that. But she’s irreplaceable. She is my granddaughter.”One thing has become clear since the fire: Loupe is beloved by many.
Shelby Kliebert, a co-worker at Waterford 3, where Loupe works as a cafeteria manager, set up a GoFundMe page titled, “Help us help Ashley.” The page raised $8,000 in five days of its March 16 posting, and 124 people have donated to the cause.
Norma stumbled across the page while staying with her daughter in the hospital; the discovery truly moved her. “I was flipping through on my phone and I see ‘help us help Ashley,’ Norma said. “It never dawned on me … I kept looking at eyes of the picture and thought, ‘that looks like my child’s eyes. But, nah … I looked at the picture more closely … my hand went over my mouth and I started to cry. You never think about stuff like that.
“I have no words that can properly thank everybody for what they’re doing for her. There could never be enough words for that. Their support and prayers have been overwhelming.”Norma believes Ashley’s outgoing and friendly personality has made her fast friends with many people, especially her co-workers, who fueled many of the donations.
“She has many, many friends over there,” Norma said. “She’s loved by everybody, and she feels the same way towards them.”