Volunteers rally to support fire victims
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Fire investigators are beginning to comb through the still-smoldering wreckage at the International Residence Apartments in northwest Austin.
The wind-driven fire destroyed there buildings there early Thursday, displacing hundreds of people. Many escaped with only the clothes they had on their backs, but the community has mobilized to pitch in.
"It's terrible, you know, to feel like you don't have a home,” fire victim Joshua Worden said. “It's certainly eye opening."
Worden is one of the lucky ones, at least some of his possessions remain, but until he can get back in to his apartment, he needs clothes.
"Maybe just some shoes,” he said. “That's all I really want."
Now that the initial shock is wearing off, fire victims are moving forward and they're getting some help.
"It's not over yet for the families it's affected, and we're here providing that help," Sara Kennedy, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said.
Managers at the Hill Country Nazarene Church in Cedar Park turned their sanctuary into a relief center.
"Within 30 minutes, we had what you see now,” Pastor Joe Bob Ellison said. “We're able to receive donations. We're able to get it into the hands of the fire victims immediately."
And donations have been are pouring in.
"As hard as a disaster experience is, people really come together and our communities step up," Kennedy said
Pastor Ellison says fire victims are different from others in need.
"They don't come in here sad, they don't come in here broken, they come here just thankful that they're even alive," he said.
And thankful for a second chance.
"I feel bad for the people who had bought all these presents and then their houses went up and they lost everything," Worden said.
The relief effort is still accepting clothing and household items, but cash donations will be needed as families relocate.
To contribute to the cause, contact the Austin Disaster Relief Network at 512-331-2600 or the Red Cross of Central Texas at 512-928-4271.
You can also visit their web site, Centex.Redcross.org.