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Friday, March 2, 2012 - 2:00am

Red Cross Strained On House Fires

More Georgia families need help getting back on their feet after house fires.

The Red Cross says, a spike in post-fire support is partly due to the economy.

Red Cross spokeswoman Esther Sheppard says, there haven't been more house fires in the region.

However, the Recession forced more families to live together, increasing the agency's pay-outs per fire.

"It's harder for them to get back on their feet because they typically don't have the savings and don't have rental's insurance or home owner's insurance," Sheppard says. "When you're cutting back on things those are the things that tend to be cut back."

Officials at the Southeast Georgia Red Cross chapter say, last year they spent $368,000 helping families after house fires.

That's an 80 percent increase over the year before.

Sheppard says, families are finding it harder than ever to cope with disaster.

"Sometimes it's just hard for someone to stand in front of their home and see everything they have — it's gone. That is devastating," Sheppard says. "It's devastating to see as a volunteer and it's devastating for the folks that have been affected by that disaster."

The Red Cross helps families burned out by fires. Depending on the case, the support could include stays at hotels and the first month’s rent and security deposit on a new place to live.