Community rallies to aid fire victims

Published 12:17 am Friday, December 31, 2010

CORAPEAKE – A family of five that saw their rental home go up in flames here early Christmas morning are discovering there is more than one “Santa Claus.”

This tight-knit Gates County community is rallying to the aid of their neighbors – the Junious “Bubba” Rawls Jr. family – with gifts of money, clothing and other items.

“It’s just the right thing to do, no matter what time of the year,” said Kurt Brugeman, the newly installed president of the Corapeake Ruritan Club.

He added that the club made a monetary donation to help the family.

According to Linda Whisonant, a relative of the family, a special account has been established for donations. She said those donations will be accepted at any Bank of America branch office. Checks need to be made out to Junious Thomas Rawls Jr.

“They were lucky to get out of that house alive,” said Whisonant, the sister of Junious Rawls. “All they had were the clothes on their backs.”

Currently, the fire victims are separated, living in different homes with family members and friends.

“They’re waiting to see what their landlord decides to do with the home they were living in,” Whisonant said. “Obviously, they can’t live in it now, but maybe the landlord will decide to rebuild. They do want to remain in the Corapeake community. They may have to look for another rental home.”

Meanwhile, another effort is underway to assist the Rawls family.

Rev. Mickey Willard, pastor of Eureka Baptist Church in Corapeake, is using his home (786 Daniels Rd. Corapeake, NC 27926) as a collection point for donations to the family. Those gifts can include money (cash or checks), clothing (including socks and undergarments) and toiletry items.

Clothing needs are as follows:

Boy, age 14, size 16 regular pants and medium shirts;

Boy, age 16, size 32 waist/30 length pants and large shirts;

17-year-old girl and mother (both wear same size clothing) size 3 pants and medium tops; and

Father – size 34 waist/32 length pants and large or extra large shirts.

Whisonant said another teenage girl was a frequent guest at the Rawls home. She was there the night of the fire and lost some of her belongings. She wears the same size as the mother-daughter.

The family already has plenty of outerwear (coats, etc.) that has been donated.

For more information on the clothing needs, contact Rev. Willard at 252-465-6583.

The family lost their home and belongings in a residential fire shortly past midnight on Dec. 25.

Gates County Emergency Management Director Billy Winn reported that the family of five managed to escape the flames at their wood-frame home located on Thicket Road off NC 32 in the Corapeake community.

“The father received minor burns and was treated on the scene by Gates County EMS,” Winn said, adding that the man was not transported to the hospital.

Winn said the fire was caused by an electric heater that ignited a blanket.

Sunbury Fire Department (Stations 1 and 2) responded to the blaze, as did Gates Volunteer Fire Department. Winn said the home was fully engulfed upon the firemen’s arrival.

Gates County EMS and Gates County Sheriff’s deputies were also on the scene.

The American Red Cross offered immediate, but short-term, housing assistance to the family.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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