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Community Rallys Around a Family

By: Jessa Goddard
By: Jessa Goddard

Knoxville (WVLT) - They lost nearly everything in Hurricane Katrina last year.

But an evacuee family from New Orleans was just about to get back on their feet in Sevier County when disaster knocked at their door again.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard spoke with the family and has more on how they're coping in the face of yet another tragedy.

What will strike you about this family is they're not saying why us.

They're saying thank you.

You see, fire destroyed their Sevierville home Tuesday morning.

In the aftermath, a community is coming together to help this family rebuild.

"In July, I lost my father. And this Thursday I lost my mom. And then Tuesday, we lost our home," says Sheryl Rome.

It hasn't been an easy past year for Sheryl Rome and her family.

Escaping New Orleans with little more than their wedding album and the clothes on their backs.

This family of five settled into a new home and a fresh start in Sevierville.

Sheryl has two jobs.

Her husband, Gerald, works nights and weekends.

And they were just about to start making ends meet.

"And Tuesday morning around 10:30 in the morning, there was a fire that started in my house. I tried the best thing I could do to put it out and it didn't. I couldn't do anything. It spread too fast and too quick," says Gerald Rome.

So, Gerald got himself and his daughters to safety and called 911.

Firefighters arrived minutes later.

"When the firemen came they said anything else you want to save out of the house. And I said, if you really could, try to find this wedding album," says Gerald.

But it was too late.

The wedding album and everything else, for that matter was destroyed.

But out of the ashes, came hope.

The Romes' landlord also owns a local hotel, where he's allowing them to stay.

He's also offered to build them a new house, at no charge.

And total strangers started stopping by with clothes, food and toys.

"People are really helping us out. It means a lot, it really does. It makes me very happy that I decided to move somewhere like this," says Gerald.

"We've been blessed. We've had a lot of help through this community, and I thank them so much, everybody that's helped us, its been so wonderful," says Sheryl.

The Romes say they believe they found themselves in Tennessee for a reason.

And plan to make this their permanent home.

When they get one.

This all comes just 11 days before Christmas.

If you'd like to help the Rome family, a fund has been set up in their name at Y-12 federal credit union.

You can make a donation at any location.

Below are the family's clothing sizes and the girl's Christmas lists:

Bethany: 3T

Celea: 4T

Amber: size 6

Sheryl: size 14 (large)

Gerald: size XL, 40 waist, 30 length

Bethany and Celea love Spongebob, Dora and Care Bears.

Amber love "princess" items and Bratz dolls.

Y-12 credit unions are also accepting those donations.


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