On the day residents of the Windsor Green were allowed back into their community to sift through rubble for personal mementos, the Carolina Forest Civic Association was briefed on fundraising efforts aimed at assisting those affected by Saturday’s devastating fire.
“We’ve had such a tragedy this past week,” said Bo Ives, president of the Carolina Forest Civic Association, at the top of Wednesday’s meeting.
That tragedy could be seen in the dozens of residents digging through what was left of their condominiums all day Wednesday.
Fire that swept through the Windsor Green community late Saturday afternoon destroyed 26 condo buildings in less than an hour.
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On Wednesday one young girl was desperately hoping to find her necklace, while others had found burned wedding dresses as well as picture and bed frames.
An amazing site amid all the rubble was a plastic light bulb that survived intact and theoretically could still work.
Al Klepk was hoping to find his money clip which held his cash and driver’s license.
“I don’t know who I am. I don’t have no identification,” Klepk said.
The Illinois native was encouraged that he could be digging in the right spot; Klepk found his burnt glasses case, which he said had been sitting next to his clip.
Klepk considers himself and his wife, Karen, lucky that their condo in Windsor Green is a winter home, and they’re heading back to their house in Illinois soon. He said he felt for his neighbors who were in much worse shape.
In the end, he was thankful that everyone escaped unharmed.
“God wanted a condo, but he didn’t want me and my wife,” Klepk said.
At Wednesday night’s civic association meeting, Todd Wood with Impact Ministries said the local chapter of the Red Cross has processed more than 50 families at the Beach Church off George Bishop Parkway.
Wood stressed that while the donations of clothes have been generous, the need right now is money.
“We often have a disaster within a disaster,” Wood said when it comes to clothes donations.
Wood added when he assisted after Hurricane Katrina, there were so many clothes they actually had to burn a lot of them.
He encouraged anyone who wants to donate money to give it to the United Way Fire Fund.
As of right now, Wood said there were no totals as to how much money has been raised to benefit the victims of Saturday’s blaze.
The fire broke out at 5:12 p.m. and moved forward quickly because of high winds and low humidity. Within 20 minutes, 26 buildings were consumed and eventually leveled.
Almost 190 people were displaced. There were no fatalities.
Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge told the crowd of more than 50 at Wednesday’s meeting that officials didn’t know initially if there would be mass casualties.
“You don’t know if you’re looking at temporary morgues,” Eldridge said.
Horry County Fire Chief Fred Crosby praised the work of county firefighters in battling the blaze. He said it was tough to stand in front of the group and say they did a good job in spite of all the loss, “but we did a good job.”
The audience applauded the efforts of all.
Crosby said the fire was contained at Gateway Drive before it had the chance to spread into surrounding developments.
“We decided we were going to make Custer’s last stand there. And this time, we won,” Crosby said.