Family loses home, belongings in fire; time for aid running outPublished 11:00pm Tuesday, September 17, 2013
By Josh Bergeron
The Selma Times-Journal
Sunday, Sept. 8 was just another day for the Thomas family, until they began preparing dinner.
Dallas County resident Mary Thomas put dinner on the stove and sat down with her nine children to watch a movie.
Then she smelled smoke.
The house, just outside of Sardis, became engulfed in flames. Two of her children were airlifted to the hospital and the Thomas family’s life changed forever.
“I had to be rushed to the hospital because I am expecting the tenth child and got a lot of smoke in my lungs,” she said. “We were already having a difficult time doing things, but this made everything worse.”
Soon after the house fire, The Edmundite Missions provided the family with food and shelter.
That only lasted a week.
Now, the Thomas family is staying at a local hotel, provided by the Black Belt Region Red Cross. The Red Cross’ housing voucher expires Friday and Thomas said she isn’t sure what comes next.
“All I know is that we are here until Thursday and then we have to figure something out,” she said.
The family owns the land the charred house remains currently occupy. Thomas said she is hoping to receive enough donations to remove the remains and purchase or build a new house.
Red Cross Black Belt Region Director Jakki Phillips said the family is also in need of basic household items, such as clothing, hygiene items and furniture.
“Charity starts at home, we need to wrap our arms around this family in their time of brokenness,” Phillips said. “On Friday morning the family will be homeless and they can use any help they can get. It would be good if someone could give them assistance in purchasing another mobile home; an apartment may be a quick fix, but it may not be the best bang for the buck.”
For now, the family is stuck, not yet homeless, but without a place to call home, Phillips said.
The dire situation the Thomas family is currently wading through is compounded by the fact that Rufus Thomas, the father, is incarcerated.
“It just makes it all worse,” Thomas said. “He was the one that did everything. He brought home the bacon.”
As a result of the father’s incarceration, Ledarius, 19, and Cody Thomas, 18, have become the leaders of the family.
“We just try to help out however we can,” Cody Thomas said. “We help out with home school however we can and like to toss the football around sometimes too. I am also looking at getting a job.”
The family hasn’t totally given up hope. Mary smiled and laughed when talking about her pregnancy and the future addition to the family.
“We don’t know it’s gender, but we are already calling it a girl,” she said. “We haven’t settled on a name yet, but I’d like to name it after my mom.”
For information on helping the Thomas family, contact the Red Cross at 874-4641.