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Thank you to community for supporting efforts

By BY RON PRAY
July 12, 2014 at 2:12 a.m.

Ron Pray

On May 28, we had an incident out in the county that resulted in the death of a young mother and injured her infant daughter. Because of the nature of the incident, many first responders and representatives from local, state and federal agencies spent hours attempting to piece together what happened. It was an emotional time for all involved. However, as proven in the past, this community comes together in the worst times of tragedy.

I would like to take this time to recognize and thank all of those who provided any type of support to all of us. In the initial hours of the investigation, the neighbors of the cul-de-sac provided food, water and access to their homes to use their bathroom facilities. As more and more people arrived on scene, the Coleto Baptist Church opened its facility and parking lot to us. The 24-hour security provided by the Victoria County Sheriff's Office was invaluable. Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor immediately made his department available in whatever we needed. As you can imagine, the response to this incident was vastly growing. It was evident that we would be here for the next several days.

We had counseling available and provided by Lane Johnson of Gulf Bend, Victoria Fire Department Chaplain Henry Learn and Pastor Tim Williams of Northside Baptist Church, who also provided drinks. Food was provided by Mumphord's Barbecue and Devereux. Personal disaster response volunteers Linda May and Marguerite Griffin solicited, coordinated and distributed donations. Trinity Lutheran Church provided area residents with comfort kits and boxes so they could secure their belongings and clean up their homes. County Commissioners Gary Burns and Clint Ives and their staffs provided manpower, barricades and helped with clearing debris. Waste Management in coordination with Darryl Lesak of the city of Victoria Environmental Services provided port-a-potties. Other city of Victoria departments like Rick Madrid of Building Inspections conducted inspections of damaged homes, and John Johnston of Development Services provided information and maps of the area. To assist with getting around the site, Morres VanBeveren of MW Rentals brought out a gator for transportation. The Victoria Electric Coop line crew isolated the electricity and restored power to the area promptly. John Sweet of Zarsky Lumber provided lumber for the residents to board up damaged windows and doors. Dr. John Beck provided care for the family pets.

When an incident like this happens and everyone wants to help, there will come a time when assistance can possibly be duplicated. Such was the case with Glen Dry of the Sportsman Church, Barbara Neville of American Red Cross and David Murphy of Chick-fil-A when they offered their assistance. Although other agencies already had it covered, we were appreciative of their offerings.

On behalf of the local, state and federal investigators, our team conducting the investigation and the Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office, I want to thank all of you for everything you did to help us. It is comforting to know that when a tragedy occurs in our community, there are so many people who step forward and help in whatever way they can.

I do want to point out that even though it is our job to respond to emergencies, typically, we don't have the large number of different agencies as we had on this incident. I was proud of how everyone came together and was able to work through the investigation as a team. The interagency cooperation was seamless. With that said, I'd like to recognize the following agencies and personnel: Quail Creek Volunteer Fire Department; Raisin Volunteer Fire Department; city of Victoria Fire Department; Victoria County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Unit and detectives; Deputy Marshals Tony Mallette and Sylvester Mosley of the Victoria County Fire Marshal's Office; Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office; State Fire Marshal's Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives; Texas Railroad Commission Investigators; Texas Rangers; Justice of the Peace, Precinct 1, Richard Castillo and Joey Rodriguez of Sunset Mortuary. I am also thankful for the tremendous assistance we received from Rene Owusu-Ansah and Rick McBrayer of the Victoria City/County Office of Emergency Management.

I'm sure I may have left someone out in this column, and for that, I apologize. I am just thankful that we had such awesome community support.

Ron Pray is the Victoria County fire marshal.

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