Disaster Relief Committee: Helping Those Who Lost Their Homes

At least 27 homes in Wichita County have burned and another 20 structures are no longer standing, resulting in millions of damage.

On Friday the county was declared a disaster area and is asking for assistance from the federal government.  The Disaster Relief Committee is now taking matters into their own hands.  They are comprised of a group of community leaders such as Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom and United Way Representative.  They are formulated a plan to get assistance to those who need it and their next step is getting to the people.

"I've seen disasters but I've never seen how this kind of fire can just disintegrate someone's home and leave just ashes there," said Judge Woody Gossom.

Gossom spoke to a group of concerned leaders.  He personally understands the hurt felt in the
hearts of many Texomans.  A good friend of his lost everything he owned when the fire struck his home.

"I went out to his house and there's just nothing left and it was a brick home and everything in his home is just disintegrated."

The Disaster Relief Committee formed after the floods of 2007 is here to help homeowners who simply can't help themselves asking them first to register with the Red Cross, then the group will schedule a time to sit down and chat.

"We will determine what their needs are, what's not covered by insurance what can we do to get them through this and try to make their lives as whole and back to normal as we can," said Gossom.

"One of our roles at the center has to do with responding with disaster behavioral health and mental health services," said Roddy Atkins with the Helen Farabee Center.

He says their services are open for all who have been hit hard by the flames whether it is a homeowner or those on the front lines battling the blaze.

"We have the ability to have workers who are trained to do individual debriefings as well as groups," said Atkins.

Through one donation at a time the county wants give hope to those who most need it, letting them know there is someone who cares.

Those who can help the relief efforts are asked to call 211.  You can offer donations or services such as building skills or counseling or any other skills you think would help.  Once you call please leave your name and number and they will contact you shortly.

If you are making a donation to the Red Cross, United Way or Interfaith Missions please specify it is for the local chapter relief efforts.  The Helen Farabee Crisis Hotline number is 1800-621-8504.