The extreme drought has caused widespread destruction across the South Plains, causing volunteer fire departments to tap out their funds. With the dry weather continuing in the region, the likelihood of more fires is high.
When the Lubbock Area Foundation noticed funds were dwindling and the government hadn't taken action, they partnered with the South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG), who takes applications for money local agencies are seeking. They created the South Plains Disaster Recovery Fund and raised more than $8,000 in less than a month.
Friday, departments from Edmonson, Hale Center and Halfway received grants totaling $6,200 specifically for fuel and tires.
"When you live out in a community like that there is not fire hydrants, you have to take the water with you," said Dale Gibson, Halfway Fire Department.
Most of the 51 volunteer fire departments around the South Plains region did not budget for so many fires in an extended amount of time. Right now they are struggling to repair their equipment to fight the next fire and save their community.
With fires sparking from something as small as a cigarette butt, the departments continue to exhaust their resources because they are volunteers and money is scarce.
"They may travel a 90 mile radius just to support a neighboring community with their mutual aid," said Elena Quintanilla, SPEG director of regional services.
The foundation says the entire unbudgeted expenses for the region total more than $100,000.
"We've spent over $13,000 on fuel and tires and trucks. You always try and keep a reserve because you never know what's going to go down. If you can't buy fuel or repair your truck, you're no good to anybody," said Ronald Groves, Hale Center Volunteer Fire Department Chief.
Applications are still being accepted for additional grants, and donations are still needed.
To contribute to the fund, go online to LubbockAreaFoundation.com or call the foundation at (806) 762-8061. 100 percent of every donation will go to local volunteer fire departments and relief agencies. Donations are tax-deductible.
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