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Flood homes ransacked

September 10, 2002

Lee County-- Houses that were ruined by flood waters are set for demolition. But before the homes are torn down, Flint River Habitat for Humanity was given one of its biggest donations ever. The charitable organization has been invited to take what is usable from the flood homes to sell.

But volunteers are finding that some of the homes have been ransacked, and thousands of dollars of items has been stolen.

For two weeks, Marines have been removing toilets, fixtures and cabinets from flood homes in Lee County, all to help out Flint River Habitat for Humanity. But, when they get to the homes, they're finding these items have already been taken.

GSgt. Jeffery Ferkel says, "It's pretty sad, this is all being sold to help people that don't have housing and its obviously people that have houses that are trying to make their homes look nicer."

When the Marine volunteers arrived at one flood home they found it had been partially stripped, doors and windows were stolen along with a five ton A/C and heat unit.

Flint River Habitat for Humanity Director Stacey Odom-Driggers says, "We come out here and check one day and it's fine, the next day it's not. The Empire Demolition crew got called out here six times by the Sheriff from people being out here driving off with trailer loads of stuff. I really have no idea what all has been taken."

What looters have taken has added up to thousands of dollars. Habitat, so far, has raised enough to complete a home it's building for a family. They thought they would raise enough money to start a second home, but now that seems doubtful. Odom-Driggers says, "Looters, people coming out here ransacking taking what they want, it's been kind of disappointing, we are grateful for all we get but the fact there's been a lot of theft is disappointing as well."

And volunteers are working even harder to get what is usable out of the homes before thieves get their hands on it.

Habitat for Humanity Director Stacey Odom-Driggers says Lee County police have been patrolling the area, trying to deter looters.

Posted at 3:58 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com

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