After the fire, a family survives

Daven, Elizabeth, Destiny, and Devin and lucky dog Coco who was rescued from the fire. Photo by Samantha Lyles

Daven, Elizabeth, Destiny, and Devin and lucky dog Coco who was rescued from the fire.
Photo by Samantha Lyles

By Jana E. Pye, Editor,

What happens after a fire is a tale that is not often told.

Former neighbors notified the News and Press about the hardships the family of six is enduring weeks after the home they were renting suffered a fire on Friday, February 13.

“They don’t ask for any help,” said one neighbor, Johnny August. “They are the most hardworking family you would ever want to meet, and although they don’t want to ask for any help, darn it, we should all step up and help them.” he said. “They are living in two rooms at a hotel just struggling to keep up, and really need some help. The children are precious, precious children and so well behaved. It’s such a shame.”

The story of Cocoa the puppy revived by local firefighters after being rescued from a fire at a home on North Main Street in Darlington on February 13th was a heartwarming story, and one that was shared with many as a success.

Using infrared cameras, local firemen were able to locate the puppy and gave Cocoa oxygen to revive the little beloved pet.

“Our kids- and the puppy- are doing okay,” said Elizabeth Driver. “It’s the adults that are stressed out.” she pauses, and chuckles softly. “You know how kids are, they think it’s an adventure to be in a hotel. We are just trying to stay positive. It could have been a lot worse- we are all okay, we have each other, and we are doing the best we can.” The house fire was deemed an accidental fire, started in the back bathroom due to a combination of faulty wiring and a fragrance plug in.

Although the fire was put out fairly quickly, water and smoke damage ruined most of the belongings.

To add further to the loss, looting occurred at the home before the family could retrieve all they could.

The family includes Elizabeth, Willie Pooler, their three children, sons Devin, age 10, and Daven, age 6, and their daughter Destiny age 9. Elizabeth’s mother, Peggy Odom, also lives with the family.

Elizabeth works at the IHOP in Florence second shift, and Willie works for a landscaper and tree business that is dependent upon the weather.

Less than a week before the fire, Elizabeth’s mother, Peggy, had been hospitalized for a heart condition. She suffers from diabetes and is scheduled to have heart surgery in May.

“We’re trying our best to keep the stress off my Mama,” said Elizabeth. “I’m working all the hours I can get, and so is Willie,” she continued. “Paying for these two rooms is taking every bit of money we have.”

The family unfortunately did not have renters insurance, something that many people don’t think of when they rent.

“We are thankful for the help that The Lord Cares and the Red Cross gave us,” said Elizabeth, her quiet voice hushed. “We just never thought something like this would ever happen to us.”

Some selections of clothing were provided to the children through the Kids Closet in Darlington.

The family is staying in two hotel rooms for now, which is sapping their available income rapidly. They had already gotten their tax returns back. “We got them back and caught up on bills,” said Elizabeth. “If I had only known, if we’d saved it, we would have had enough for a security deposit on a new place to live.”

Clothing was retrieved from the home, but sadly is damaged by smoke, and will be costly to properly clean to remove the smoke odor.
Clothing sizes of the family includes:

Children: Devin, age 10, wears a boy’s size 10 and size 3 shoe. Destiny, age 9, wears a girl’s size 7, and wears a size 1 shoe. Daven, age 6, wears a boys size 6-7 clothing and a size 13Y shoe.

Adults: Elizabeth: ladies size 16, XL and 81/2 shoe; Willie, size XL shirt, size 36 x 34 pants, size 12 shoe; Peggy Odom: size 2X stretch pants, and XXL tops, shoe size 9.

Clean, gently used clothing and footwear may be brought to the News and Press office for distribution. Call 843-393-3811 and ask for Jana.

By press time, a Facebook page called “Families in Need” dedicated to helping local people in the area was actively trying to assist with help, and will be creating an account with Wells Fargo. Please contact Wells Fargo directly to find out the proper way to donate funds to assist with a security deposit for a new home to rent, and to replace damaged and stolen items.: Wells Fargo, 58 Public Square, Darlington, S.C. 29532, Phone: 843-393-4076.

The News and Press will keep readers updated on our Facebook page.

Author: Duane Childers

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