Families left homeless by apartment complex fire needing help

Twins born to one displaced mother; another expecting

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK, News-Telegram Managing Editor

Sept. 18, 2008 - About half a dozen families left homeless after a Saturday morning fire at a local apartment complex are still looking for housing, but Hopkins County Salvation Army Chairman Jo Marie Neal said virtually all of the 42 families seeking assistance need furniture.

Most have found houses or apartments to live in, Neal said today, but a few have yet to secure homes and are staying in local motels.

That includes a 20-year-old woman who gave birth to twin boys on Tuesday. She and her husband -- who also have an 11-month-old daughter -- had been sharing an apartment with one of their parents when the fire destroyed 21 apartments and left 22 others unlivable.

"And we have another that's expecting any time," Neal said, referring to a couple that is already raising a 2-year-old and an 11-month-old infant.

Neal also said the Salvation Army is "pretty good" as far a clothing donations go, but almost all of the families need some type of furniture. One family, Neal said, has everything but a bed.

The parents of the the twins, conversely, need everything. They were ready for the birth of the boys, for example, but lost all the clothes and other items they had gotten to prepare for the arrival of the newborns.

But there's something of a Catch-22 at work here. The Salvation Army has no place to store furniture, so the families still needing homes can't accept those donations until they've found a place to stay.

And affordable housing is at a premium in the area right now. Neal said the parents of the twins born this week found one house, but the cost was $800 a month -- and the owner needed the first and last month's rent in advance.

Neal is hoping that someone in the county who has housing available will contact her.

"We're asking that they waive the deposit, if possible," she added.

Neal can be contacted by calling 903-335-1032. She can also be found at the Hopkins County Salvation Army headquarters at inside The Bait Shop, located at 1702 South Broadway St., next to the Super Handy store across from Lowe's.

Sulphur Springs firefighters were dispatched at 2:45 a.m. Saturday to the East Industrial Drive apartment complex. The blaze was so intense and spreading so fast the crews had to call in all available firemen, including the two shifts not on duty.

The local division of American Red Cross and Hopkins County Salvation Army were called to help find places for residents and their pets to stay

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