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Church group helps Texas fire victims




EDITOR'S NOTE: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Richard Norman, of Thomson, contributed this account of this community's efforts to help his Texas hometown, which has been devastated by wildfires. According to news reports, fires have taken two lives near Bastrop in central Texas. Richard and Karen Norman are the parents of Reece, 7, and Anna Kate, 5. Fred Lewis, of Thomson, accompanied Norman on a three-day trip to deliver relief supplies to Texas .

My name is Richard Norman and I have been stationed in Augusta for about 21/2 years. I have lived in Thomson during that time. I am currently on active duty in the United States Navy. I left during the first week of June for deployment.

On Sept. 4, I had just gotten off of a submarine in Diego Garcia after a three-month deployment and was awaiting my travel back to the States when I talked to my father, Mike Norman, in Bastrop, about 20 miles east of Austin in Central Texas. On that day, I learned from my dad, who was the Bastrop fire chief for 11 years, that a wildfire had started burning near my hometown.

As I monitored the situation via the Internet, I learned that severe drought and abnormally dry weather were significantly contributing to the fire. I continued to talk with my dad, my sister, Michelle Baker, and several friends located in Bastrop via the telephone and Facebook since I was on the other side of the world. Over the rest of the day on Sunday, the fire got much worse. I left the location I had gotten off the submarine and traveled to Bahrain for another flight back to the States. While I was traveling to Bahrain, weather conditions changed somewhat and my sister's house was also destroyed along with many others in the early hours of Monday morning.

I continued to monitor the deteriorating situation, and I contacted my wife, Karen, in Thomson. I asked her to contact David Walker at First Baptist Church in hopes that we, the members of FBC and the community of Thomson, could come together to gather much-needed items for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes at that point. My wife began working with David to get the ball in motion. I arrived home to Thomson on Wednesday, Sept. 7. After talking with David, we began to try and get the word out to the community in several different ways. We made announcements at church and we spread the word to Briarwood Academy and the YMCA. I also made posts on several local community organizations' Facebook pages in an attempt to collect as much as possible to transport for those needing donations in Bastrop, Texas.

As the week came to an end, the actual assessments of damage caused by the wildfires in Bastrop became more clear. In all, just over 34,000 acres (almost one-third of Bastrop County) were burned, approximately 1,550 homes were destroyed and thousands were forced to evacuate from their homes. Over 500 local firefighters and wildland firefighters from around the United States were called in to battle the blaze.

Due to the large number of people who lost everything, my sister included, we decided to take donations through Sept. 14 so that we could get those much- needed items to Texas. We gathered donated items including clothes, toiletry items, cleaning supplies, food and baby items at FBC Thomson. Several people throughout Thomson donated items along with many members of FBC Thomson. People also made monetary donations with which new dish sets, new pots and pans and new Crock-Pots were purchased for victims of the fire.

On Wednesday, with the help of the FBC Youth and middle-schoolers, we loaded a large trailer that was generously donated by Two State Construction. In addition to the trailer, Two State also donated a truck to tow the trailer.

The trailer loading was completed Wednesday evening about 7 p.m., and Fred Lewis and I began the drive to Texas. We made the 17-hour drive and arrived in Bastrop at about 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Once in Bastrop, during the first day we were taken around the area by Bastrop Fire Department and toured many of the affected areas.

On street after street, houses were reduced to nothing but piles of rubble. As we toured one neighborhood, residents were trying to salvage any precious valuables that existed because it was the first day since the fire had begun that they were allowed to come back into their neighborhoods.

As I arrived at my sister's house on that day, FEMA representatives had just finished their analysis of the scene and my sister and brother-in-law were using sifters, made from mesh screen and 2X4s and donated to thousands of residents by Home Depot, to sort through the ashes that were once their home.

After a night's rest, on Friday we gathered volunteers and firefighters from Bastrop Fire Department to help unload the trailer and divide donated supplies brought from Thomson, Ga.

We set up all donated clothes so that affected people could go through them to determine what they needed, but all other donated items were divided and given to more than 10 firefighters in Bastrop who lost their own homes while fighting the fires. We spent several hours ensuring that the donated items got to those who desperately needed them and Fred and I departed to return to Thomson on Friday night at around 7 p.m.

A huge thank you goes out to residents of Thomson and especially to David Walker and the members of First Baptist Church Thomson for their support for Bastrop, Texas.

By RICHARD NORMAN

Special to The McDuffie Mirror

Editor's note: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Richard Norman, of Thomson, contributed this account of this community's efforts to help his Texas hometown, which has been devastated by wildfires. According to news reports, fires have taken two lives near Bastrop in central Texas. Richard and Karen Norman are the parents of Reece, 7, wand Anna Kate, 5. Fred Lewis, of Thomson, accompanied Norman on a three-day trip to deliver relief supplies to Texas.

My name is Richard Norman and I have been stationed in Augusta for about 21/2 years. I have lived in Thomson during that time. I am currently on active duty in the United States Navy. I left during the first week of June for deployment.

On Sept. 4, I had just gotten off of a submarine in Diego Garcia after a three-month deployment and was awaiting my travel back to the States when I talked to my father, Mike Norman, in Bastrop, about 20 miles east of Austin in Central Texas. On that day, I learned from my dad, who was the Bastrop fire chief for 11 years, that a wildfire had started burning near my hometown.

As I monitored the situation via the Internet, I learned that severe drought and abnormally dry weather were significantly contributing to the fire. I continued to talk with my dad, my sister, Michelle Baker, and several friends located in Bastrop via the telephone and Facebook since I was on the other side of the world. Over the rest of the day on Sunday, the fire got much worse. I left the location I had gotten off the submarine and traveled to Bahrain for another flight back to the States. While I was traveling to Bahrain, weather conditions changed somewhat and my sister's house was also destroyed along with many others in the early hours of Monday morning.

I continued to monitor the deteriorating situation, and I contacted my wife, Karen, in Thomson. I asked her to contact David Walker at First Baptist Church in hopes that we, the members of FBC and the community of Thomson, could come together to gather much-needed items for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes at that point. My wife began working with David to get the ball in motion. I arrived home to Thomson on Wednesday, Sept. 7. After talking with David, we began to try and get the word out to the community in several different ways. We made announcements at church and we spread the word to Briarwood Academy and the YMCA. I also made posts on several local community organizations' Facebook pages in an attempt to collect as much as possible to transport for those needing donations in Bastrop, Texas.

As the week came to an end, the actual assessments of damage caused by the wildfires in Bastrop became more clear. In all, just over 34,000 acres (almost one-third of Bastrop County) were burned, approximately 1,550 homes were destroyed and thousands were forced to evacuate from their homes. Over 500 local firefighters and wildland firefighters from around the United States were called in to battle the blaze.

Due to the large number of people who lost everything, my sister included, we decided to take donations through Sept. 14 so that we could get those much- needed items to Texas. We gathered donated items including clothes, toiletry items, cleaning supplies, food and baby items at FBC Thomson. Several people throughout Thomson donated items along with many members of FBC Thomson. People also made monetary donations with which new dish sets, new pots and pans and new Crock-Pots were purchased for victims of the fire.

On Wednesday, with the help of the FBC Youth and middle-schoolers, we loaded a large trailer that was generously donated by Two State Construction. In addition to the trailer, Two State also donated a truck to tow the trailer.

The trailer loading was completed Wednesday evening about 7 p.m., and Fred Lewis and I began the drive to Texas. We made the 17-hour drive and arrived in Bastrop at about 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Once in Bastrop, during the first day we were taken around the area by Bastrop Fire Department and toured many of the affected areas. On street after street, houses were reduced to nothing but piles of rubble. As we toured one neighborhood, residents were trying to salvage any precious valuables that existed because it was the first day since the fire had begun that they were allowed to come back into their neighborhoods.

As I arrived at my sister's house on that day, FEMA representatives had just finished their analysis of the scene and my sister and brother-in-law were using sifters, made from mesh screen and 2X4s and donated to thousands of residents by Home Depot, to sort through the ashes that were once their home.

After a night's rest, on Friday we gathered volunteers and firefighters from Bastrop Fire Department to help unload the trailer and divide donated supplies brought from Thomson, Ga. We set up all donated clothes so that affected people could go through them to determine what they needed, but all other donated items were divided and given to more than 10 firefighters in Bastrop who lost their own homes while fighting the fires. We spent several hours ensuring that the donated items got to those who desperately needed them and Fred and I departed to return to Thomson on Friday night at around 7 p.m.

A huge thank you goes out to residents of Thomson and especially to David Walker and the members of First Baptist Church Thomson for their support for my hometown of Bastrop, Texas.

By RICHARD NORMAN

Special to The McDuffie Mirror

Editor's note: U.S. Navy Petty Officer Richard Norman, of Thomson, contributed this account of this community's efforts to help his Texas hometown, which has been devastated by wildfires. According to news reports, fires have taken two lives near Bastrop in central Texas. Richard and Karen Norman are the parents of Reece, 7, wand Anna Kate, 5. Fred Lewis, of Thomson, accompanied Norman on a three-day trip to deliver relief supplies to Texas.

My name is Richard Norman and I have been stationed in Augusta for about 21/2 years. I have lived in Thomson during that time. I am currently on active duty in the United States Navy. I left during the first week of June for deployment.

On Sept. 4, I had just gotten off of a submarine in Diego Garcia after a three-month deployment and was awaiting my travel back to the States when I talked to my father, Mike Norman, in Bastrop, about 20 miles east of Austin in Central Texas. On that day, I learned from my dad, who was the Bastrop fire chief for 11 years, that a wildfire had started burning near my hometown.

As I monitored the situation via the Internet, I learned that severe drought and abnormally dry weather were significantly contributing to the fire. I continued to talk with my dad, my sister, Michelle Baker, and several friends located in Bastrop via the telephone and Facebook since I was on the other side of the world. Over the rest of the day on Sunday, the fire got much worse. I left the location I had gotten off the submarine and traveled to Bahrain for another flight back to the States. While I was traveling to Bahrain, weather conditions changed somewhat and my sister's house was also destroyed along with many others in the early hours of Monday morning.

I continued to monitor the deteriorating situation, and I contacted my wife, Karen, in Thomson. I asked her to contact David Walker at First Baptist Church in hopes that we, the members of FBC and the community of Thomson, could come together to gather much-needed items for the hundreds of people who had lost their homes at that point. My wife began working with David to get the ball in motion. I arrived home to Thomson on Wednesday, Sept. 7. After talking with David, we began to try and get the word out to the community in several different ways. We made announcements at church and we spread the word to Briarwood Academy and the YMCA. I also made posts on several local community organizations' Facebook pages in an attempt to collect as much as possible to transport for those needing donations in Bastrop, Texas.

As the week came to an end, the actual assessments of damage caused by the wildfires in Bastrop became more clear. In all, just over 34,000 acres (almost one-third of Bastrop County) were burned, approximately 1,550 homes were destroyed and thousands were forced to evacuate from their homes. Over 500 local firefighters and wildland firefighters from around the United States were called in to battle the blaze.

Due to the large number of people who lost everything, my sister included, we decided to take donations through Sept. 14 so that we could get those much- needed items to Texas. We gathered donated items including clothes, toiletry items, cleaning supplies, food and baby items at FBC Thomson. Several people throughout Thomson donated items along with many members of FBC Thomson. People also made monetary donations with which new dish sets, new pots and pans and new Crock-Pots were purchased for victims of the fire.

On Wednesday, with the help of the FBC Youth and middle-schoolers, we loaded a large trailer that was generously donated by Two State Construction. In addition to the trailer, Two State also donated a truck to tow the trailer.

The trailer loading was completed Wednesday evening about 7 p.m., and Fred Lewis and I began the drive to Texas. We made the 17-hour drive and arrived in Bastrop at about 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Once in Bastrop, during the first day we were taken around the area by Bastrop Fire Department and toured many of the affected areas.

On street after street, houses were reduced to nothing but piles of rubble. As we toured one neighborhood, residents were trying to salvage any precious valuables that existed because it was the first day since the fire had begun that they were allowed to come back into their neighborhoods.

As I arrived at my sister's house on that day, FEMA representatives had just finished their analysis of the scene and my sister and brother-in-law were using sifters, made from mesh screen and 2X4s and donated to thousands of residents by Home Depot, to sort through the ashes that were once their home.

After a night's rest, on Friday we gathered volunteers and firefighters from Bastrop Fire Department to help unload the trailer and divide donated supplies brought from Thomson, Ga.

We set up all donated clothes so that affected people could go through them to determine what they needed, but all other donated items were divided and given to more than 10 firefighters in Bastrop who lost their own homes while fighting the fires. We spent several hours ensuring that the donated items got to those who desperately needed them and Fred and I departed to return to Thomson on Friday night at around 7 p.m.

A huge thank you goes out to residents of Thomson and especially to David Walker and the members of First Baptist Church Thomson for their support for Bastrop, Texas.



Web posted on Thursday, September 22, 2011













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