Family copes with loss

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 13, 2004

It was the Vaughan emergency room receptionist who unknowingly informed Deborah Pope her house was on fire.

After dropping off her two sons at school on Dec. 2, Pope had taken her daughter to the emergency room to see a doctor about her cold.

“I was signing her in when the receptionist said something about seeing a house fire on L.L. Anderson,” Pope said. “I told her ‘I live on L.L. Anderson’ and that I didn’t see a house fire when I left this morning. Then my mother came running in and said our house was on fire.”

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The Pope’s home at 1805 Anderson Avenue was completely destroyed. Only the charred walls remain.

“We lost everything,” she said.

The cause of the fire was deemed undetermined. Pope said she had a space heater and her gas heat on when she left that day.

But in this time of crisis, a miracle happened.

Friends, family and even complete strangers came to this family’s rescue.

Since the fire, the Pope family has been provided with the bare essential to help them make it though the day and eventually get back on their feet.

The family is currently staying at the Craig Motel until they can move into a trailer on Highway 80 East.

Their new landlord waived their deposit and the Black Belt Chapter of the American Red Cross is paying the family’s first-month rent.

The Pope’s church family at Green Street Missionary Baptist Church provided them several much-needed items, along with local businesses including Shoney’s Restaurant, Lewis Brothers Funeral Home, Miller’s Funeral Home, McDonald’s, Sonic, Advance Video and Security (ADT), On Time Fashion, Robes and Gown, One Hour Cleanser, Superior Cleaners, A&M Cleaners and Selma Steam.

Payne Elementary School also collected donations for the family.

“I just really want to thank all those who helped me and the kids,” Pope said. “Without them and God, then I don’t know where we would be right now.”

She added that even though most of her children’s Christmas gifts are gone, she is grateful they didn’t lose their lives.

“Thank God we were not at home,” she said. “We still have our lives. That’s the most important thing right now.”

Pope added that her three children-Dominique, LeMarty and Shiaquiarius-are “holding up” pretty well considering what they have been through.

“I’ll be glad when I can get them back into a stable home,” she said. “I just want my kids to have their Christmas back.”

Family friend Michael Rawls said the Selma community is making sure Pope gets her wish.

“This might be the best Christmas they’ve ever had because of all the things people have done for them,” he said. “Through tragedy, God has helped them. Things are coming together for them.”

The Pope family hopes to be moved into their new trailer this week. From there, they will begin to rebuild their lives.

“I always feel I have to put God first,” Pope said. “I know when we do that, we’ll make it.”