LUBBOCK, TX -- On Mother’s Day, the small town of Fritch became a disaster area after a brush fire devastated the town. Even five weeks later, the disaster in Fritch is still a challenge for Lubbock-based South Plains Chapter of the American Red Cross.
The fire was contained within four days, but by that time it had destroyed more than 200 homes and left at least 117 families without any home.
“We responded to what we thought was a small wildfire,” Pamela Faubion with the Red Cross. “It escalated very quickly and it impacted 293 home.
“We are still working with 120 families that were not insured,” Faubion said.
Food, shelter and medical attention were immediately offered to the victims in Fritch, and the attention has switched to more long-term issues.
“Forty percent of businesses go under in the first year after a disaster,” Faubion said. “So, we want to make sure we’re buying locally-we’re using resources locally. It’s just a series of how can we get the money back where they need it, and to keep jobs there.”
For the last month the Red Cross has been buying food from Fritch’s local restaurants in an attempt to keep them in business.
“People now have to have a place to live. But their home is gone,” Faubion said. “So, now people are leaving that community. That economy is starting to decrease because there’s no one shopping in their stores. There’s no-one shopping in their restaurants.”
Faubion said another reason for the continued presence of the Red Cross is to make sure the mental health of the community stays strong.
“Disaster mental health is one of our keystones of the Red Cross,” she said. “If we have any type of an event, people are so busy dealing with the event right then, that they don't really deal mentally with the event.”