AUTRYVILLE — After having their headquarters hit by a tornado, firefighters are facing a huge challenge to bring it back. But they’re not doing it alone.
Following the destruction on the evening of Tuesday, May 23, the Autryville Fire Department is receiving support for rebuilding efforts.
“It’s amazing,” said Autryville Fire Chief Andrew Hawkins. “It feels like everyone comes together when a tragedy or emergency happens. But it’s still awesome to see people reaching out and helping. It makes us feel really needed in the community.”
The building, located at 305 N. Hotel St., is currently in the demolition phase. On Friday, Hawkins reported that the process should be completed in about two or three days. Firefighters are working on getting a temporary station or carport with an office trailer.
“We’ll see where we’re a funding wise with the insurance and we’ll decide what direction we want to go when we start rebuilding,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said they’re currently trying to make the best out of their situation.
“Our response times are a tad bit slower, but we haven’t run into any issues with that,” he said.
It will probably take about a year for the department to rebuild a new station because of permits and planning approvals. The estimated cost is more than $500,000.
“If it’s quicker, that would be awesome,” he said. “We’re going to have to be prepared to be in this uncomfortable state for about a year.”
Around 15 groups and individuals reached out to help in the meantime. Some of the recent efforts involved a clothing sale from LulaRoe Clothing. In addition to a bake sale, those events generated about $4,000.
“There’s a lot of them popping up, which is pretty awesome,” Hawkins said.
Some of the other postings on their Facebook page include efforts from the Cape Fear Valley Blood Bank and On-After Bar & Grub. One of the upcoming fundraising events is a softball tournament, scheduled for Saturday, July 1, at the Peters Creek Softball Complex, 12878 C S. Faircloth Road, Roseboro. The entry fee is $25 per team and deadline to register is Saturday, June 24. For more information regarding rules and regulations, Alex Blackburn, may be reached at 910-590-9374.
Before the tournament, Mcdonald’s is donating 25 percent of their total sales during a grand opening scheduled for Friday, June 23 at McGee’s Crossroads, 27 Crape Myrtle Drive, Benson. In addition to discounted meals, the event will also feature an appearances from Ronald McDonald from 5 to 7 p.m. Fire department officials and radio station QDR is scheduled to be present.
Several departments are giving assistance to the fire department too. Following the incident, the Boiling Springs Fire Department in Virginia loaned a firetruck to Autryville in May. Hawkins is expecting to receive a truck from the Cary Fire Department soon, which was purchased at a minimal amount. Also, the Creedmoor Volunteer Fire Department donated equipment in in June.
The department received grant funds from South River Electric Membership Corporation, though the Operation Round Up, a voluntary program that enables members to round up their electric bill to the next whole dollar. The extra cents are donated to community programs and organizations. For groups such as the Autryville Fire Department, $5,000 is usually awarded, but Hawkins said South River doubled that amount for emergency efforts.
“That was a huge help,” he said.
The Autryville Fire Department, created a GoFundMe campaign at https://goo.gl/x4WoIk. As of Friday, the department raised more than $3,000 for a $20,000 campaign goal. Donations may also be mailed to 305 N. Hotel St., Autryville, NC 28318.