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Community helps families displaced by recent fires

By Sean Batura, Kerrville Daily Times, Texas
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

March 26--MOUNTAIN HOME -- Four months after their home burned down, members of a local family say their prayers have been more than answered.

Jerrod and Brandie Masters and their two kids, Sierra and John, are rejoicing after friends, family, churches and even perfect strangers pulled together to donate $46,725 for a new 1,400-square-foot, double-wide mobile home, the first half of which was delivered Tuesday afternoon from San Antonio to their property in Mountain Home.

"It feels relieving and exciting, and it's such a blessing," Brandie Masters said. "Our faith is strengthened. ... And the amazing thing is, we don't deserve it. We don't deserve any of this. It's very humbling."

A youth group from the family's congregation at Kerrville Bible Church were at the site after dark last Friday helping the Masters clear away the rubble of the old home, and Jerrod Masters, a construction worker, on Saturday laid a foundation on the property for the second time in 10 years. This foundation was bigger, as the old home was 200 square feet smaller.

Daughter Sierra Masters, a second-grader at Harper Elementary, said she's excited to have a room bigger than her old one.

"God promised us that He would provide, and we would have taken anything He would have given us, even if it was single-wide," Brandie Masters said. "For my birthday, a person wrote me an $11,000 check. You can't say that's not God. God has been extremely merciful to us, and so with that $11,000, we were able to go closer and get one that was better built. God has provided us more than we expected; it's more than we had (before the fire)."

The fire, believed to have started in the kitchen due to an electrical issue, destroyed the first home the evening of Nov. 25, 2013, while the family was away. The family recovered some iron skillets, a handful of John's toys, a few blankets, two family photos and the kids' Bibles. Since then, the Masters have lived in cramped conditions in their travel trailer on the property, which Brandie said hasn't been easy.

"We all go through hard times, but I give the glory to God that we have family and friends and our church family to help see us through it," Jerrod Masters said.

The second portion of the family's new home is set to be delivered today, and they'll be moved in by the weekend.

Brandie Masters said people can help other local families recently displaced by fires by praying, extending comfort and giving what God tells them to give.

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"Have a bake sale or a fundraiser, give them love, and be patient with them as they try to figure things out," she said.

Other fire victims in need

On Feb. 16, the Bennett Family was away at a baseball tournament when their home in Harper was destroyed by a suspected electrical fire.

Amanda and Tim Bennett and their three children -- 9-year-old T.J., 12-year-old Savannah and 17-year-old Brittany -- have been living in a camping trailer since then, and they're hoping to have an estimate from their insurance company soon on what it will take to rebuild.

It's taking longer than expected to get the estimate, with the company wanting to retain portions of the old home and some contractors disagreeing on the safety of using heat-stressed studs and beams, said Amanda Bennett. She said the insurance payout won't go as far, because the family had to hire a public adjuster to help assess the damage.

"It's been almost six weeks now living in a (RV) with three kids," Bennett said. "They're doing pretty good. We're all adjusting; they're getting used to it for right now. It's only been a few weeks, so we're not tired of each other."

She worries her husband, an Iraq War veteran injured in combat in 2007, may have trouble managing the burns that cover 70 percent of his body if the family isn't able to get out of the RV before the onset of summer.

The Harper community held a March 8 benefit at Headwaters Saloon to raise money for the family's future rebuilding efforts, and there's an account at Security State Bank for others who wish to help.

"(The benefit) went really well," Amanda Bennett said. "We had a really, really good turnout and a lot of support from the community and different people. We raised some money to help hopefully offset all of the extra it's going to end up costing."

Carrol Abendroth and her

15-year-old daughter, Misty, were displaced by a fire that burned their rented home this month off Ranchero Road. The two are living in a cabin on the same property and are hoping they can buy the damaged home if it's renovated, or a new home at the site. It's unclear what started the fire.

Abendroth said she and her daughter are in need of a washer and dryer, stove and rodeo clothes for Misty, who's been competing for 12 years and has won numerous awards for barrel racing.

Members of the community already have stepped up to render some help. The Tivy volleyball team raised about $600 with a bake sale, and people have given Misty clothes for school and even paid her entries for her next four rodeos.

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The family is used to pinching pennies to make ends meet, Abendroth said.

"People have told me, 'Don't let her stop rodeoing,'" Abendroth said. "Because that would have been the first thing we would have stopped doing (due to the fire)."

People can help the Abendroths by donating to a fund at Wells Fargo Bank called the Misty and Carrol Abendroth Benefit.

Two seniors displaced last

week when a fire destroyed their home at Three Hills Mobile Home Park were provided temporary housing by friends or family, according to the local Red Cross chapter. James Canup, who directs the chapter, said he's not aware of any funds being set up to aid that couple, who told The Times they have insurance.

___

(c)2014 the Kerrville Daily Times (Kerrville, Texas)

Visit the Kerrville Daily Times (Kerrville, Texas) at www.dailytimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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