Local agencies, organizations rally to help apartment fire victims

Families discuss how to move forward after Woodcliff Apt. fire

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  In the aftermath of the Woodcliff Apartments fire that left at least 15 families without a home, organizations in Columbus are banding together to help them as they try to find stability. 

Steven Harris said he recalls the moment he saw his home of four years engulfed in flames.

"I was outside, I'd seen it when the smoke started coming up from the back," Harris said, "and I ran around the back to see what it was, and I'd seen the ground on fire."

President of the Urban League of Greater Columbus Susan Cooper has lived through seeing a relative lose his home in a fire when her father's apartment on MLK Boulevard was destroyed near Christmas time. 

"This is almost a repeat of the MLK fire," she said. 

Harris said he counts his blessings, knowing some of his neighbors have absolutely nothing left. 

"Fortunately, I salvaged a lot of stuff, thank God. You know, other people weren't as fortunate as I was," he said.

However, Cooper says the volunteer team made of five community organizations including New Horizons and Metra Transportation are ready to meet each family's needs. They're working from a list of items written by the families. 

"This transition is just a little bit easier because we learned a lot from them last year," Cooper said.  

"All of the agencies, we've come together, we're very well prepared, very well equipped to help the families and to help them meet their temporary as well as their longterm needs."

For now, Harris and the former Woodcliff residents will work to put their lives back together.

"Everybody's in sorrow, they're probably down," he said, "but you know, we're going to try to lift each other up."

A short-term concern for everyone at the meeting: where these residents can go and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. During the meeting, the victims were invited to the Liberty Theater, where they'll be treated to a full meal on Thursday.

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