79° F Thursday, June 22, 2017
COURTESY PHOTO  Roofing crew volunteers, from left, Jerry Wright, Chris Fox and Elijah Chaney sweated in the sun to get a burned-out Spicewood couple back under a sound roof again, the first of the families aided by the Long-Term Recovery Committee there to move into permanent housing.
COURTESY PHOTO

Roofing crew volunteers, from left, Jerry Wright, Chris Fox and Elijah Chaney sweated in the sun to get a burned-out Spicewood couple back under a sound roof again, the first of the families aided by the Long-Term Recovery Committee there to move into permanent housing.

The first family aided with home reconstruction by the Spicewood Long-Term Recovery Committee is about to move into its newly rehabilitated home, more than eight months after the Labor Day wildfires which destroyed their — and many of their neighbors’ — homes.

Unable to find affordable housing in Spicewood after the fires roared through the unincorporated community, the couple pooled their own resources with their grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration, and bought an existing house in Kingsland as a fixer-upper.

The Spicewood LTRC paid for a badly needed new roof and replacement windows, work that is winding up now.

“It’s a good feeling to see a family moving into permanent housing and moving down the road to recovery,” said the Rev Tommy Wilborn, pastor of Grace Outreach Family Church in Spicewood and committee chair.

“When we started the process of helping fire survivors, we had no idea what we needed to do or how to do it. One thing we’ve learned in the past eight months is that that is normal — long term recovery from disasters is almost always management by amateurs — certainly none of us wants to experience this again.”

In Spicewood, more than 100 households were affected by the wildfires. Almost half were uninsured, and many more were under-insured. More than half the families have received assistance from one source or another.

“After insurance and federal grants and loans, the LTRC is the main source of aid for these survivors,” Wilborn said. “But the need is huge for a small, rural community such as ours.

“Our construction committee tells me it will take more than a quarter-million dollars to do everything we need to do, just for those in genuine need. We’ve spent about 10 percent of that amount so far, and still have a very long way to go. We’re counting on donations coming in to cover those needs, but it’s slow, and there are a lot of other needs competing for those same dollars.”

Wilborn said of the needed amount, more than half has been pledged, but less than half of the pledges have been received.

To assist the Spicewood Labor Day wildfire survivors with a donation of funds, or an in-kind gift of service or goods, or to help as a volunteer, contact the Spicewood LTRC through Wilborn at 565-0800 or email river4god@aol.com or Jim Madigan at 784-3800 or jim@madigancustomhomes.com.

Find the latest Spicewood recovery developments at LTRC’s webpage spicewoodltrc.org.

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