Willow residents make final rebuilding push before winter

See movie and article: http://www.ktva.com/willow-residents-make-final-rebuilding-push-before-winter-430/WILLOW 

Four months after the Sockeye Fire devastated the Willow area in June, rebuilding efforts are still in full swing. Residents and volunteers work hard to finish construction before the first big snowfall.

The Willow Community Rebuild Project is a nonprofit organization that sprang up in the weeks following the disaster. On Sunday, a group of volunteers was putting up walls in one of eight homes in the fire area.“As long as we beat the snow, we’re doing great,” said project manager Krista Fee.

She said many of the homes are being built on the same floor plan as the destroyed ones.“We’re trying to give them back what they had,” said Fee. None of the eight homeowners were insured during the fire. But Fee said that’s mainly because insurers often deny coverage to remote areas like Willow.

Moreover, many disaster relief organizations only provide financial assistance for the period immediately after the tragedy. Few groups offer relief for the burden of rebuilding.“There are many agencies out there that provide resources to people, but there are a lot of different gaps in those resources.

Housing is one of those places that isn’t covered,” she said. Fee understands the challenge of rebuilding because she lost her home to an electrical fire in October 2014. She said many people don’t realize how little coverage their insurance will provide.

“When our house burned down, I thought we were completely covered, and the insurance agent explained to me that most people don’t know that they’re not even close to [covered],” said Fee.

A team of volunteers working on one home Sunday came from a variety of professional backgrounds.“You can’t change the entire world, but you can make your little bit of it a lot better,” said Tim Ensminger, a carpenter who was overseeing the project and building coordinator for the Mat-Su chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

He said some people had no construction experience, but “everybody brings their arms, backs, and legs.”The house the team is rebuilding will be home to Jim Sprengel, who has been living in a small, leaky trailer since June.“It’s a blessing. I’ve been pretty fortunate,” said Sprengel.

He said he never considered leaving Willow.“The fire was brutal, but things are coming back tenfold,” he said. The Willow Community Rebuild Project still seeks volunteers and funding for their rebuilding efforts. You can find more information on their Facebook page.

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