Records house fires deplete Red Cross funds - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Records house fires deplete Red Cross funds

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BIG SANDY (KYTX) -  A record winter fire season across the East Texas region is 

overwhelming the local Red Cross with people who have lost their homes.

As the number of house fires is increasing, as funds to help victims are decreasing. 

 

The Longs from Big Sandy, are one of the many families who lost a home to a fire this winter.

"It was Christmas morning. I wasn't at home. I was at work with my husband," says Chamroeun Long. 

However, her father and three kids were home when smoke filled their apartment during an electrical fire at the complex.

They got out safely, but the damage was so bad, they had to find somewhere else to live. 

"It was horrible trying to find a place to stay, going from restaurant to restaurant trying to find things to eat. My kids were wearing the same clothes for 3 or 4 days," Long says.

She says she couldn't have survived without funds from the Red Cross. 

"It was almost $1,000 for six people. I really appreciate them," Long says.

Long was shocked to find out that the average number of East Texas families displaced by fires has doubled from 15 a month, to 30. 

The Smith County Red Cross has already spent two thirds of its annual disaster budget, and the fiscal year, which starts in July, is only halfway over.

"With 30 families going through this each month, that's devastating," she says.

The economy has made things even more difficult.

In a typical year, about 50 percent of Red Cross clients have insurance. This year, that has dropped all the way down to 25 percent, putting an even bigger financial burden on the organization.

The longs did not have insurance at their old place, but they are working hard to insure their new one.

Long and her family feel blessed to have a new place to call home.

"I'm trying to give something back to Red Cross once I get situated," she says.

That's something the red cross not only greatly appreciates, but desperately needs.

If the local Red Cross spends its entire disaster fund, it will have to dip into the national disaster relief fund. 

The Red Cross tells CBS 19 it expects to have to do that, since there's now a house fire almost every day.

The best way to donate to the Red Cross is to give a monetary gift to the disaster relief fund, so the organization can use it however it needs.

To find out more about donating or volunteering for the Red Cross, click here. 

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