Tornado and Wildfire Update - Conference Contributions Still Aiding Victims
“We were doing things around home. We didn’t know the fire was going on ‘til the last minute.” That’s how Trudie Lang, a life-long resident of the White Oak Road community, about mid-way between Jefferson and Linden, Texas, begins to describe a six-month saga of destruction, confusion, tragedy and rebuilding. Sitting on a new brown couch in the living room of her new home, she describes a trail from awareness to recovery following the September 2011 wildfires that devastated thousands of acres across Texas.
“You could see the smoke and fire off in the distance,” Lang said. “We just stood and looked, hoping it wouldn’t come this way but were soon told to evacuate.” Thinking everything would work out the Langs left for Ft. Worth to stay with their son, only to learn the next day that their home had burned.
“I lost everything,” she sighed. “It was just terrible to see everything along our street burned to the ground. It was quite an ordeal.” Lang said the loss included all those things you can never get back, including the family dog. With everything gone, the Langs oved into a faded 12 x15 foot makeshift building.
Trudie’s tragedy was compounded when her husband took ill and died before he could reach the hospital in Marshall, just 14 miles away. One of the first sources of help came in the form of meals and food provided by Jefferson churches. “Once I got a mobile home, I needed electricity, a septic system and plumbing,” Trudie explained.
She said some of these things were covered by insurance and FEMA, but she needed more done before she could finally move in by mid-January.At that time the Marion-Cass Alliance for Long Term
Recovery and Resilience (MCALRR) was able to step up to help meet those needs. Working with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Alliance has provided furniture, major appliances, the porch and steps, and other necessities to Trudie as it has to many other survivors of the 2011 wildfires.
Lang said the Alliance has provided her with dressers and a mattress for her daughter, Mary,
but also with emotional support and encouragement. God brought Trudie a gift in Shirley Partridge, a
member of First United Methodist Church in Jefferson, and the treasurer for the Marion Cass Alliance for Long-term Recovery and Resilience.) “Since my daughter and I are unable to work, Shirley brought us canned food and other things.” “I see some good coming out of this disaster,” Lang said. “I have the same neighbors, but with new houses.” In the bright future, Trudie will enter her new home up the steps and across the porch built and paid for by the arion-Cass Alliance.
Numerous volunteers have made repairs, assembled sheds and carried out other construction
tasks to fill the gaps between insurance and FEMA grants. They have completed the finishing touches to make homes livable. Trudie would tell other fire victims, “There is hope. But I wouldn’t want to go through this again.”
The Alliance is an all-volunteer organization created following the September fires. It has now raised more than $140,000, with the bulk of funding coming from fire relief donations raised through the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Rev. Allison Byerley of First UMC Jefferson and Rev. Kevin Young of Linden UMC are spearheading the effort.