COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - As the families affected by this weekend's fire at Woodcliff Apartments receive donations and essential items, rescue volunteers and state officials want to remind anyone living in an apartment to protect themselves in the event of disasters with renters insurance.
For 24 hours, Red Cross volunteers have helped residents at the complex on Oakley Drive gather whatever they could find left after a fire destroyed 18 units, displacing a total of 35 people.
"Basically, there's a lot of shock," said volunteer Patti Buckhiester. "They didn't expect anything like this to happen, so they're dealing with a major crisis," Buckhiester said.
Unfortunately, some apartments had nothing left to recover. This is a situation in which officials at the Georgia Office of Commissioner of Insurance urge people to protect themselves with renters insurance.
"If it's something that is in your budget," said Georgia OCI Communications Director Glenn Allen, "and you can afford it and you want to protect your personal property, then yes, get it!"
Volunteers like Buckhiester said they agree that renters insurance can be affordable.
"It can be as little as $5 a month, and it could cover your temporary living until you can get relocated," Buckhiester said.
More importantly, Allen said, it covers any and all personal property.
"Your furniture, your computers, your TV, in case something happens," Allen said, "whether a neighbor has a fire in their apartment, or you have a fire in your apartment."
Buckhiester also said that in the event of a fire, residents should not look to property owners for any financial relief.
"The landlords only have protection for their buildings," Buckhiester said.
Allen said the Georgia OCI knows that while many landlords don't require renters insurance in the sate, the office highly recommends buying it, just in case tragedy strikes.