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Old Hazard HS fire victims continue to receive community support

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

Michael Gabbard said his new apartment is full of stuff, but he is not complaining.

“It's just really overwhelming that everybody has come together the way they have to help us like they have because we really lost everything you know,” said Gabbard.
“It’s awesome.”

Families who lost everything when their apartments in the old Hazard High School were destroyed just before Christmas have continued to gain support from the community. More than a dozens families are now in new homes and getting a fresh start.

Hazard High School students came together to throw a household shower for all 17 families affected by the fire last month. Those on the receiving end said it has made a world of difference. Gabbard's family and 16 others have received an outpouring of support after a fire gutted their homes.

Students and others came together to give them all the things needed to make their new house a home.

Principal Happy Mobelini of HHS said that most of the items given to families were brand new.
“Bedding, couches, beds, box springs, mattresses, tables and chairs, dressers, we have everything you need to start your household with,” said Mobelini.

Gabbard said it has made all of the difference in getting settled in after being disrupted with his family. His partner, Jenna Brashear and 14-year-old Taleah, along with 17-year-old Autumn Jones all live with him in their new apartment. All four of them received brand new beds, towels, blankets and other items which made the stuffed apartment seem like their own.

“Words can't express just how thankful and grateful that i am that there are people out there who care,” said Gabbard.

Gabbard’s neighbor from the old building moved into the same complex as his family and she said that the event did test her faith.

“It is hard and you want to build stuff up, but you are just scared that something is going to happen again,” said Baker.

Baker said that those who came to help reassured her that things would eventually get better.

“I could never imagine that people care so much until after this happened,” said Baker.
“I can see where it is overwhelming to see how many people actually care,” said Wanda Baker.

Baker said she and her husband Mark were glad to gain new items as well. Gabbard and Baker said that they are more than appreciative, but they have had bittersweet feelings after losing everything.

“It's kind of been a blessing in disguise for us, in a way you know,” said Gabbard.
“The building was in bad shape and it was up there on a hill and we did not like it up there.”

They said they just want everyone to know how much their kindness means to them.

“We wouldn't have been able to have done it without everybody's help,” said Gabbard.

Baker said that she and her husband do not want to give any specific thanks.

“We can't start to thank one person because we would leave out somebody, i mean you know because we want to thank the whole town because there is a lot of people out there that has helped us,” said Baker.


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