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Mon July 9, 2012
Pocatello Fire Victims Get Help From Community
As wildfires continue to burn in parts of Idaho and elsewhere in the West, an eastern Idaho town is reeling from a devastating fire that destroyed nearly 70 homes a week ago.
The Charlotte Fire took homeowners in Pocatello by surprise. Steve Leaman lost everything.
"By the time I got to the cabin, I heard this noise and I thought 'it was the fire plane, it’s the fire plane - my cabin is saved'," he says. "It wasn’t a plane, it was a wall of fire come off that hill rolling like a wave off the ocean.”
Leaman grew up in this area south of Pocatello. Fifty-five years of memories are gone. Today he lives in a small tent on the edge of his property. He is also one of the first to start rebuilding.
Neighbors are helping him remove the old foundation of his home. He plans to rebuild within 6-months.
But Leaman is the exception. There are a lot of people who can only bring themselves to stare at blackened rubble where their homes use to be. The 60-foot flames leveled homes. It looks like a bombed out war zone.
Cherie Laurence is a volunteer with the Red Cross. She attended a fundraiser for the victims Saturday. She says most people are still in shock. Laurence describes one woman she helped a few days ago as not quite sure where to start rebuilding her life.
"She truly did not know what she needed," Laurence says. "She hadn’t been able to sleep, she hadn’t been able to close her eyes and she truly did not know what she needed. She needed our help - she needed our help to get her the help she didn’t know that she needed.”
The Red Cross operates on donations from the public so it can help in situations just like this. The Red Cross is helping victims with the basics -- shelter, clothing, and other necessities. Laurence says it’s also providing medication, eye glasses, counseling. Volunteers are even helping get fire victims to doctors visits or to the store.
There is still a lot of work to do. The community is helping where they can.