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Goods Abound to Help Fire Victims 'Carry Their Load'

Dozens of families displaced by two fires last week got a helping hand Monday in the form of clothing, bedding and household goods.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Dozens of families who lost all their material possessions in a fire last week in north Raleigh are getting a fresh new start, thanks to generous members of the community.

"This just brings a smile to my face and it makes my heart warm," said fire victim Herman Ivory on Monday as he moved through a warehouse full of donated goods for the fire victims. "If you see me crying, it's not ‘cause I'm sad. It's ‘cause I'm happy."

They made their way through clothing, shoes, bedding and an array of other household goods.

"Everything—I lost everything. Bedding, just about everything that we have here, you need a little bit of everything." Ivory said.

The staff of the Crossroads Fellowship church said it took just nine hours to collect everything. It is, they said, a testament, to a community ready to help.

“Everybody should carry their own load, but when they load gets to be an excessive burden, all of us should step in and share the load until the burden becomes acceptable,” said Tom Capps, a member of the fellowship. The donations collected to help with the load is enough for 250 families, the church said.

The fire ripped through the Pine Knoll Townes townhouse complex off Capital Boulevard last Thursday, the same day a fire at the Pines of Ashton apartment complex killed two adults and a child and forced out other tenants.

The two fires left 36 families -- 102 people -- with little but the clothes they were wearing. The local Red Cross chapter has been assisting the fire victims, and Crossroads Fellowship on Millbrook Road held a dinner for the families Monday night.

As Juanita Williams and her stepfather try to move on with their lives, they can't help but look back at the townhouse fire that changed their lives.

"I'm going to miss the things I can't bring back -- photos, memories. It still hurts right now," Williams said.

Victims of the Pine Knoll Townes fire met with Red Cross volunteers at local hotel Monday to determine who still needs help. Some of the families are still staying in hotels, while others are moving into furnished apartments.

The Red Cross has issued debit cards to victims to pay for necessities and will provide free lodging at area hotels to some families for a few more nights.

"(They need to) begin to think about what happens next, whether it's finding an apartment, working with their insurance company, getting back to school, getting back to work," said Patricia LeRoy of the Red Cross.

About a quarter of the Pine Knoll Townes residents don't have homeowner's or renter's insurance.

Don Stroud of Hartsfield and Nash Agency, an independent insurance agent, said most adjusters will work with victims of a major disaster. The problem comes when people forget what they had, he said

Taty Padilla said she couldn't remember everything she lost in the fire and had trouble when the insurance adjuster headed her way with a clipboard.

"The fire went right through, and it took all my memories of my kids and everything. It's devastating," Padilla said.

Stroud suggested videotaping the inside of a home or taking a series of still pictures and storing them in a safe deposit box or other safe location outside the home.