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Community, organizations begin to rally for victims of Monday’s apartment fire

As renters watched their homes go up in flames at The Landings Apartments Monday, volunteers, emergency management employees and the American Red Cross were on the scene aiding first responders and the fire victims with water.

While this was helpful, it did not, unfortunately, change the fact the fire had changed the lives of the 23 people living in the 12-unit apartment building located on Fairways Drive.

However, with the assistance of non-profit organizations in the community, there are efforts in place for them to find lodging and help as they start to rebuild their lives.

Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer said two full-time employees and a volunteer with the Red Cross were working with the apartment complex Monday afternoon to identify by name and apartment number those misplaced and checked that information with the lease agreements on file.

They were also making sure the fire victims displaced by Monday’s fire had someplace to stay.

“The American Red Cross is an organization that provides immediate assistance,” said Debra Davis, with the American Red Cross.

In addition to providing water and assisting with lodging, the Red Cross met with those who had lost their place to live and possessions to hand out comfort kits, which included personal hygiene products. Funds were also distributed to help with clothing and food.

Davis said the American Red Cross also works as an advocate to provide information those displaced will need in order to get assistance from other non-profit agencies.

For those who need more information about Red Cross assistance, Davis said, information was left with officials at The Landings Apartments or they can call the American Red Cross office, 601-636-9182, and ask for Tamica Smith, who is the communication director.

The United Way of West Central Mississippi is also assisting.

“The United Way will accept funds to distribute to the individuals who were affected,” United Way Executive Director Michele Connelly said. “This is a service available here at the United Way, and we will help those as funds are available.”

As of Tuesday, Maj. Steve Welch with the Salvation Army in Vicksburg said a plan has not been put in place to assist the fire victims, but food boxes with frozen, fresh and canned goods are available, as well as furniture and household items as resources allow.

“Sometimes we can also help with utility bills and rent, but that is limited,” Welch said.

For individuals or groups who are interested in helping the fire victims, Elfer encouraged people to make monetary donations or donate gift cards.

“That is really the best way to donate since we don’t have the recourses to manage clothing donations and food donations,” Elfer said.

Also Tuesday, a number of individuals and businesses had started collecting clothing for displaced victims.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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