Andrew Morgan and Renee Devine, with one of their seven children, Caleb, 9, are still looking for a new home to rent, despite being inundated with offers of help yesterday.
Andrew Morgan and Renee Devine, with one of their seven children, Caleb, 9, are still looking for a new home to rent, despite being inundated with offers of help yesterday. Jacklyn Wagner

Fire victims rebuild their lives

ON MONDAY they lost everything, but yesterday Renee Devine and Andrew Morgan found something completely unexpected.

About 8am yesterday, exactly 24 hours after a fire destroyed their rented South Lismore home, the calls started and they continued all day as people stepped up looking for ways to help Ms Devine, Mr Morgan and their seven children.

By sundown the family had been given clothes, school bags, toiletries, first-aid gear, pillows and bedding.

Caroona nursing home had offered Mr Morgan some spare beds to replace those lost in the fire; Lismore City Lions had taken Ms Devine on a shopping trip to replace things lost in the fire; Ms Devine's gym, which she said she hadn't been to in months, had put out a collection tin for them; the school community at South Lismore Public School had rallied to donate money and items; Richmond River High had donated school uniforms; the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Lismore had provided them with food vouchers and clothes to get them through their first night – and that was just a few of the people and groups who came forward to help.

“There's a little boy at South Lismore Public School who put his $1 in an envelope and gave it to help the family,” an emotional Ms Devine said.

“It's absolutely amazing how many people have come to help.

“It helps knowing there are so many people who want to help, that we are not alone in it.”

The big challenge for the family now is to find a home. Last night they were staying with Mr Morgan's parents in their three-bedroom home and there were plenty of others coming forward with offers of temporary accommodation.

The biggest hurdle in finding a new rental property appeared to be the size of their family. Ms Devine and Mr Morgan had already been looking for a new place before the fire, but were repeatedly knocked back because of their seven children.

However, Ms Devine said they were good tenants. In the past nine years they had lived in only two houses.

The one at South Lismore had been home for more than four years, the house before that had been home for five.

Ms Devine and Mr Morgan said they weren't looking for a handout.

They needed a four-bedroom house (or three with a sleepout), and weren't fussy about where it was. They could pay up to $360 a week in rent and had no problem paying a bond.

If you can help the family, call Mr Morgan on 0411110202 or Ms Devine on 0434474977.

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