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Fire victims find help, support in neighbors

POSTED: April 5, 2011 7:00 a.m.

The recent rain may have helped to cool the Long County land that was scorched by a fire that broke out March 24, but the damaged structures and charred vegetation remain. Some residents lost their homes and others are dealing with damaged property.

Many residents, neighbors, churches and businesses in Long and the surrounding counties have offered up their time and money to help the families who lost everything they owned in the fire.

"There are two families that have been completely burned out," the Rev. David Holton of Ludowici Church of God said. "There’s others that have partial damage and need. Anything that can be done would be appreciated … we have builders who have said they would volunteer their labor. What we need is the resources for the materials and money for the materials."

Holton said the families have been "bombarded" with clothing donations, but other items, such as small household appliances and furnishings, still are needed. The church also is accepting food donations to help the families staying in hotels.

Although the cause of the fire has not yet been determined, investigators suspect it may have started from a previous fire that occurred two weeks ago on Macon Darien Road, according to reports from the Long County division of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

The biggest donors have been those in the community and, with enough help, we’re hoping to rebuild the two burned homes, Holton said. Checks can be sent to the Ludowici Bank, made out to The Long County Ministerial Alliance.

"We want to restore the two homes — the lost homes," Holton said. "We want to try and help them get new homes. One of them did not have any insurance."

Residents in Liberty County also can help by sending funds through the local American Red Cross, said Esther Sheppard, director of public support for the Southeast Georgia chapter. American Red Cross only will accept monetary donations and is not a drop-off site for clothing, food or other items.

"We provide shelter, clothing and emotional support, and we give them basically an opportunity to go out and make purchases on their own," Sheppard said. "Ninety percent of what we respond to are everyday residential fires."

Even with the devastation that followed the 4,000-acre blaze, Holton said the reaction of residents, fire victims and the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

"It’s just been a community effort. You find out how much a community cares. I’m not from this community, but I found out just how much this community cares and I don’t want to live anywhere else," Holton said.

"I’m proud to be a part of this community and the effort and the support of the people. It didn’t matter where they were from or what color they were or where they went to church or who they were connected with. Everybody came together to work together as a family, if you will … this right here, what we’ve been able to do over the last few days has been the most rewarding, gratifying thing I’ve done in almost 19 years of ministry."

 

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