JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Volunteers are picking up the pieces after a fire displaced roughly 50 people from the Beaches Rescue Recovery Mission, but the group says it could take months before some residents can move back.
Nearly a dozen rooms at the Mission, located within the Seawalk Hotel in Jacksonville Beach, were damaged when a window-mounted A/C unit in one of the rooms sparked that fire Nov. 29.
The mission, which provides shelter, food and treatment to those looking for a fresh start, was hopeful that residents would be able to return in time for Christmas, but there’s still work to be done.
For Ashley Harrison and her daughters, their return home can’t come soon enough. They lived next to the unit that caught fire. Since then, they’ve spent every day wondering where they’ll sleep at night.
“(It’s) crazy not knowing what’s going to happen the next night, where we’re going to be and when we’re going to be able to come home,” said Harrison, who’s lived there since August.
“I just wanna go home, just wanna be able to go home and be sure and not have to worry about where we’re going to be the next day,” she added.
Jimbo Stockton, director of Beaches Rescue Recovery Mission, said Harrison’s situation is not unique. He said you can’t underestimate the toll a lack of a home takes on someone on the road to recovery.
“This may sound a little bit dramatic, but it truly has been life-threatening,” said said. “There’s been two people in particular that we’re just praying are going to make it through this.”
Stockton said the organization is currently working to clear debris from the premises and get the power turned back on. At the moment, conditions in many of the units aren’t livable.
The organization said insurance will only go so far. Stockton estimates there’s about $100,000 in repairs that won’t be covered. So he’s reaching out to the public for help. To donate, click here.