Tragedy Times Two: Fire destroys home of Alabama tornado survivors

Local News

OPELIKA, Ala. (WRBL) – Tragedy strikes twice for a young family in Alabama who are in the process of rebuilding their lives, for the second time in three years. The Long Family lost a loved one and everything they owned in the Beauregard tornadoes. Now, they find themselves once again without a home of their own.

Reedy and Amy Long worked hard to start a new life for their three young kids after the devastating tornadoes on March 3, 2019. The family was getting back on their feet when their Opelika rental home suffered a catastrophic fire the morning after Easter. Thankfully the family was not home at the time; they were spending the holiday with family.

“The fire started about 5:30 in the morning in the attic. It’s structurally unlivable; the family has no choice but to move out. Nobody got hurt or anything, but it’s still just another blow to this young family who is trying to make a life for themselves,” said Bob Parsons, Fire Inspector with Opelika Fire Department.

7-year old Machaiah’s bedroom suffered extensive soot and water damage. Most of her belongings are now ruined by soggy insulation.

“She cried, and then she said, I’m just so happy my family is okay, and that is all she was worried about,” said 27-year-old Amy Long.

The Long family understands loss – loss you can’t recover from. In March of 2019, their cousin, 12-year-old Taylor Thornton, was killed in the Beauregard tornado.

“We got a phone call my uncle had found her, and it was just awful,” said Long.

Their grief was made worse as the same tornado destroyed Long’s mobile home along 51.

“There was nothing. Just nothing. The trailer’s frame was wrapped around a tree. The only thing that was left was the steps,” said Long.

The Long’s moved into the Opelika rental house on West Point Parkway and built a new life for 10-year-old Tucker, 7-year-old Machaiah, and toddler Owen. Owen’s room and the kitchen, bathrooms, and hallway have holes in the roof and significant fire and water damage. The Long’s are salvaging what little they can, and staying with family, determined to rise and rebuild again.

“We have to find the strength. We have kids, and they fully depend on us. I hate it for the kids not to have a place to call home. That is the hardest thing. They are so selfless, and they don’t deserve to go through this twice,” said Long.

The family did have renter’s insurance. However, the house was not insured. Friends have started a GoFund to help the family get some money to help buy necessities for their children as they get back on their feet again. If you would like to help, click here: Long family needs help after house fire

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