Submitted by Susan Hardee StegerDSC01412

Morning storms moving through the area caused fire damage due to lightning in several residential units of  Sandridge Apartments.   The apartments are located in the vicinity of Citrona and Jasmine Streets.  Fernandina Beach Fire and Police responded to the scene.

At the time of the strike, the  couple residing in the most badly damaged unit was not home.  No injuries were reported.  According to neighbors, the couple has lost everything.

Janice Ancrum, Executive Director, Nassau County Council on Aging
Janice Ancrum, Executive Director, Nassau County Council on Aging

Fernandina Police requested assistance from Nassau County Council on Aging (COA).  According to Janice Ancrum executive director, the COA transported displaced residents to its center, and is attending to immediate needs.   Ancrum is coordinating additional assistance with Barnabas and Hope House.  Housing will be provided for a number of residents who are unable to stay in their apartments due to smoke and power outages.

DSC01421
Evelyn Allen, one of a number of displaced residents receiving care.

“It was like a balloon blew up,”  says Evelyn Allen who lives adjacent to the most damaged apartment. Allen along with her pet dog, is just one of the displaced residents receiving assistance at the COA facility.  Allen said it wasn’t until  people began pounding on the front door that she realized there was a fire.  A wall in Allen’s apartment was torn down as fire department personnel put out the fire.

DSC01415Another adjourning neighbor who was preparing to leave her badly damaged apartment said her two house cats were “traumatized” from the strike. An electrical outlet was blown apart, a hole was torn through the living room floor, and the smell of smoke was still present.

Despite pleas for support at an August 20 city commission meeting from  local non-profit agencies, Mayor Sarah Pelican, Commissioners Charlie Corbett and Pat Gass refused to provide funding for the  Council on Aging, Barnabas, Micah’s Place, and Starting Point.  (See previous Fernandina Observer article.)

August 22, 2013 3:10

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Dave Lott
Dave Lott
8 years ago

A real-life example of how these non-profits are so present in our community and provide such needed service. Also, thanks to the FBFD and Police for their prompt response and ensuring that all residents were safe and being taken of.

Ben Lloyd
Ben Lloyd
8 years ago
Reply to  Dave Lott

Many individuals (including politicians) do not realize how important these non-profits are to our community. Until they need their help. I do not wish anything bad on anyone, but if there ever comes a time when these three city commissioners (or their friends and family) need assistance, well I hope they get turned away because the non-profits can’t afford to help them.

Praying for the people who were victims of this fire. Also praying for the politicians in hope that God will let them see the light!

Darcy Alvarez
Darcy Alvarez
8 years ago

As manager of Sandridge Apartments I would like to give a huge Thank You to Janice Ancrum with the Council on Aging, Barnabas & Hope House! They immediately reached out to offer assistance to my displaced tenants as a result of the fire until I could set them up with temporary housing. They offered tremendous compassion and support to me and my staff as we worked at the scene. Also, Kudos to Fernandina Beach Fire Department & Police Department for their prompt service! Praise God there was nobody hurt!

Lyn Pannone
8 years ago

How interesting that the first agency the fire department called was the Council on Aging, one of the very agencies that the city commission refused to support with a small donation. Does this not illustrate how the community depends on these not-for-profits?

I am disappointed at the lack of leadership by the City Commissioners, as they asked more than once during their meeting on Tuesday, how much Callahan and Hilliard were contributing to local non-profits, before they voted to discontinue providing any funding to the Council on Aging and other non-profits. This decision was made, despite the fact that these agencies could obtain matching grants of up to 10 to 1 of any amount received from the city of Fernandina Beach.

I urge the City Commissioners to reconsider this short-sighted and misdirected attempt to appropriately manage city finances. Funding these agencies to obtain 10 to 1 matching grants should not be optional, it is simply the right thing to do.

Ron Kurtz
Ron Kurtz
8 years ago

Hopefully the 3 City Commissioners that were intent on limiting public financial support to nearly all of our not for profits will find the time to visit the site of the recent weather based emergency. An on site visit to the main offices of the not for profits that responded with such professionalism in a timely manner to support the intervention of the Fire and Police Departments would be in order as well. I wonder what the two organizations targeted for grants would have offered in the way of assistance to resolving this particular crisis? What would our response teams have done if the not for profits had not been present…closed for lack of public support? At present only Ed Boner and Arlene Filkoff have shown the vision and determination to at least attempt to find an equitable distribution of limited funds to support the efforts of the not for profit sector. The time is long past for political posturing. The community needs viable solutions. Money spent in support of these vital community support systems is not wasted; rather it is invested in securing the well being of our residents. “Not for profit” does not translate as “not necessary.” The proof is in the recent articles in the Observer…The proof is in the actions of our not for profit sector.

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