Disaster relief team pays it forward - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Disaster relief team pays it forward

BIG SANDY, TX (KLTV) - Three years when Hurricane Ike devastated the gulf, many in Big Sandy sent donations to help.

On Wednesday, the favor was returned after a group from Labelle, TX traveled all the way to East Texas to repay the favor.

Three years ago Dana Matte lost her home during Hurricane Ike. She says what surprised her the most was the overwhelming amount of people who came to her aid.

"They just came in and worked right beside us strangers you know and they prayed with us and they just lifted us up," says Matte.

So Matte says she made it her mission to give others a helping hand.

For her, this disaster relief trip is a special one because this community helped her in her moment of need.

Bill Fondren says the group of volunteers has been here since Monday and plan to be here until Friday.

"This community actually helped our community. Three years ago during Hurricane Ike, [in] our community, about 85 percent of the homes where under water. And the Harmony FFA gathered cards and gift bags and handed them out to families in need," recalled Fondren.

"We're doing what's called an ash out where we'll go in and help the homeowner sift thru their property and try to find any valuables that they have," Fondren explained.

He says they also help to remove the debris and any dead trees in the area to get it ready for rebuild.

"They basically scraped up everything up, and cleaned up all the glass, and they sorted the metal from other stuff, and threw it in a pile," says Fondren, "We do it totally as a ministry. We don't charge the home owner anything. We just do it as a way of showing the love of Christ."

Fondren says they have a command center where people can fill out forms detailing their needs.

The command center is based out of Westside Baptist Church in Atlanta, TX.

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