As flames raged inside Building A of the St. Albans Green apartments and smoke and the mist of water from firehoses filled the air, people already were trying to help.
They left cases of bottled water, even a kiddie pool filled with ice and drinks, on street corners for firefighters who battled the hours-long blaze. Sycamore School District 427 Superintendent Kathy Countryman helped open nearby Southeast Elementary School for the American Red Cross to use as an emergency shelter.
On Sunday, at the Fizz Ehrler Memorial Turning Back Time Car Show in downtown Sycamore, Turning Back Time Car Club members donated their half of the 50/50 raffle proceeds to St. Albans fire victims. Attendees also contributed directly to relief efforts for victims after Mayor Curt Lang put out a donation box. Club member Mike DeVito announced that his company, My Insurance Guy, would match the first $500 donated. With the fire still smoldering, people raised more than $4,500.
It was a disastrous month for fire damage in DeKalb County, with the only saving grace being that no one was killed. About 200 were forced from their homes after a pair of fires at apartment buildings in DeKalb on July 9 and 11. That was followed by the Saturday fire, which burned for hours at St. Albans Green, destroying 40 apartments and virtually everything inside.
Many have stepped forward to help. The Family Service Agency of DeKalb County’s Apartment Fire Relief Fund, started after the DeKalb fires, has been expanded to include the Sycamore fire victims. It has raised more than $40,000 of its $60,000 goal and is accepting donations at www.givegab.com/campaigns/apartment-fire-relief-fund. People and organizations including DeKalb Township, OC Creative, state Rep. Jeff Keicher and 1st Ward DeKalb alderman Carolyn Morris have volunteered as matching sponsors.
The outpouring of support speaks to our community’s character. When it comes to helping neighbors, people from all walks of life come forward to say, “How can I help?”
The need will continue. People who lost their possessions will struggle with missing necessities for weeks to come, wanting for everyday things – fingernail clippers, children’s diapers, socks.
The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce has organized a “Sycamore Strong” fundraiser event from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at Blumen Gardens, 403 Edward St. Tickets cost $25 each and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/sycamore-strong-a-gathering-of-hope-tickets.
We commend all those who have tried to help in whatever ways they could. Those whose lives have been turned upside down should remember – your community cares, and our hearts go out to you.