Three Liberty County families are struggling to rebuild after unrelated fires destroyed or heavily damaged their homes. All of them are in need of donations.
The Huston family was away from home when fire broke out March 18. They were enjoying a day at Wild Adventures theme park in Valdosta.
A neighbor, Darryl Woodard, is credited with saving their home from complete ruin.
Woodard turned off the family’s propane tank and called 911 after he saw smoke billowing from the roof and windows of the home.
It took firefighters from Riceboro and Midway about 2-1/2 hours to extinguish the blaze.
The fire reportedly started in the kitchen and was caused by faulty wiring in a light fixture.
Now the family is trying to reclaim some semblance of the former lives but finds the journey difficult.
Like many fire victims, they have little recourse but to accept donations.
“There has been a great deal of outpouring from the community — so many who knew us and even some who didn’t — and we are thankful for that,” Huston said.
But more help is needed.
“The problem is people who see the house from the outside think the damage is not that bad. They don’t see what the inside looks like. They don’t see our need,” Althea Huston said, as she walked up to the front door of her house on Oak Creek Road.
From the outside, the home resembles most houses under construction.
The brick and vinyl siding are new and clean, and although the windows are boarded up, there is no indication anything is wrong — until the door is opened.
The interior is dark, and the walls are covered in soot. Ash is in every room of the house, and the ceiling fan in the living room is melted in place. The refrigerator and stove are charred, and the couch in an adjacent den is partially burned. Walking on the rug is like walking on an ashy, black sludge. The damage extends into the halls and bedrooms.
The fire caused the water line in the home to burst — something that helped to contain the fire to the kitchen but caused extensive water damage to the rest of the structure.
“This is what we are currently struggling with and trying to rebuild,” Huston said. “The entire interior has to be gutted in order for us to rebuild, and the walls behind the vinyl siding have to inspected to see if they need to be replaced due to the amount of water ...”
The Hustons have five children who range in age from 1 to 15 years. All their belongings and clothing were destroyed.
The family had moved to the Oak Creek Road area in 2000 and they intend to remain stay and rebuild. Currently, they are staying at a house they rent from a soldier who deployed to Iraq.
How to help
A fund for the Huston family has been established at Wachovia Bank in Hinesville. Make donations payable to the Huston Family Fund or the Road to Recovery Fund.
Melvin and Clara Dudley were gassing up the family car March 5 when they received a call from the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department informing them their home was on fire.
The blaze destroyed their home and everything in it.
The timing was horrible, they said, because they didn’t have homeowners insurance.
But just like the Huston family, they intend to rebuild.
“By the help of the Lord and God, we will rebuild,” Clara Dudley said.
When news of the fire began to circulate throughout the community, the Dudleys’ were inundated with love and support.
In one instance, a former client of Clara’s, who is a beautician, helped the family by giving them a place to stay.
“I’m very thankful for Richard and Darryl Leconte. Their mother recently slipped into a diabetic coma and they offered us the house because they said it is what their mother would have wanted,” she said.
Currently, a site behind their burned home is being cleared for their new residence.
When the family will finish rebuilding is undetermined.
“It really depends on what type of finances we can secure,” Dudley said.
The fire was reportedly caused by faulty wiring.
How to help
A fund to help the Dudleys has been established at The Heritage Bank in Hinesville. Donations should made payable to the Pastor’s Fire Fund.
Donations may also be made at Calvary Apostolic Temple on Coastal Highway 17 in Riceboro. A gospel-sing fundraiser for the Dudleys has been scheduled for April 21 at the Riceboro Youth Center.
Bishop Bobby Kindley was out celebrating his birthday when a fire destroyed the interior of his family’s two-story house Feb 28.
The blaze, reportedly caused by faulty wiring, left Kindley, his wife and their 16-year-old grandson homeless until they can rebuild.
“We are still hoping to rebuild, but for now we are staying with family,” the bishop said.
The interior remains charred and mostly untouched as the slow process of clearing the debris and picking up the pieces continue.
The Kindleys are grateful for the contributions they have received and are now looking at rebuilding.
“We received generous donations of clothes and items we needed but now we are trying to get the funds we need to be able to begin the process of rebuilding,” he said.
How to help
A fund has been established for the Kindleys at The Heritage Bank in Hinesville. Be sure to indicate the donation is for the Light of the World Deliverance, Inc., Pastor Relief Fund.