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Her children escaped the fire, but Macon mom wonders where they’ll live after blaze

'God will make a way,' girl writes after fire guts home

Whitney Waters and her two young children lost their house on Lynmore Circle in south Macon in a Nov. 11 fire. They are among the people featured in this year's Reindeer Gang, an annual Telegraph feature that helps locals in need at the holidays.
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Whitney Waters and her two young children lost their house on Lynmore Circle in south Macon in a Nov. 11 fire. They are among the people featured in this year's Reindeer Gang, an annual Telegraph feature that helps locals in need at the holidays.

The hardships can be daunting when the house where you lived with your young son and daughter — the house you paid $520 a month to rent on wages you earn making sandwiches at Subway — is gutted in a fire.

Where will you live? Can you afford new clothes? And what about Christmas?

House fires like the one that tore through Whitney Waters’ place on Lynmore Circle off Antioch Road in southeast Macon the morning of Nov. 11 sometimes go unnoticed. They don’t always make the news.

Her children and grown sister escaped with their lives. Her daughter, Deja, who is 9, saw flames flashing behind a washing machine after breakfast, and everyone rushed outside. Firefighters arrived soon enough to keep the blaze from spreading.

At first glance from the street, their house hardly looks damaged. But its porch windows are boarded up. Its tan vinyl siding is melted in spots. The inside is ruined.

In the days before Thanksgiving, the Red Cross put them up in a motel.

They moved out last Sunday and have been staying with kin, but one night while they were still there, the motel room was home.

“We don’t have anywhere else to go,” Whitney Waters said. “I thank God for giving us a place to stay for right now.”

Deja, who dreams of becoming a gymnast, was sprawled on one of two double beds.

In a spiral notebook, she had written a message with marking pens: “God Will Make a Way.”

Waters, who at 26 is a shift manager at an east Macon Subway, is a single mother.

She was at work the morning of the fire.

“I just lost it. I had to calm myself down,” said Waters, who had raced home to find her children safe. “It hurt me so bad to see my babies standing outside without any shoes on their feet.”

Five nights later at the motel, while her 4-year-old son Terrance Jr. played with her cellphone, Waters helped Deja, a fourth-grader, alphabetize words and study spelling. Words like pterodactyl and recusant and piroutte.

Terrance Jr., at the end of the bed, piped up. “I like Spider-Man!”

Waters, a 2008 graduate of Central High School, was an accomplished singer. She sometimes sings the national anthem at local events. She has had jobs styling hair, doing office work and at Zaxby’s. She has been at Subway the past four years. “It’s a hard job,” she said. “I love it.”

Her adoptive mother died in 2009.

“From then on,” Waters said, “I just had to fend for myself.”

One keepsake she lost in the fire was a picture of her mom and a golden peacock figurine that had belonged to her mom. Thinking about the peacock brought tears.

“I didn’t want to cry,” Waters said, wiping her eyes. “I lost a lot of memories.”

She was referred to The Telegraph for this story by Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon, a charity on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in downtown.

Waters had no idea, as she put, “that there was help out there like this.”

Each year The Telegraph, in its Reindeer Gang feature, publishes stories about locals who could use a hand at the holidays.

Asked what might help her get by, Waters said, “I really X myself out, because I always think about my children first. So it’s just the clothes, the shoes, the toys for them. Anything that could help, I would love it. I would appreciate it. I’m all for them.”

Then Waters thought a little more — about what for now seems an impossibility.

“The only thing I want for Christmas,” she said, “is a home.”

Editor’s note: To donate to Whitney Waters and her children, the subjects of today’s Reindeer Gang feature — the Telegraph’s annual profiles of people and families in need at the holidays — call Loaves and Fishes, the agency that has sponsored them, at 741-1007, or mail contributions to: Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon, P.O. Box 825, Macon, Georgia, 31202.

REINDEER GANG REVIEW:

The Telegraph profile of the Waters family, whose home was destroyed in a fire last month, concludes this year's Reindeer Gang profiles. The Reindeer Gang is an annual feature that looks to find help for people and families in need at the holidays. Those featured this year were:

  • Johnathan Chatman, a 19-year-old landscaper in east Macon who is helping support a dozen brothers and sisters. To donate to him, call the Mentors Project of Bibb County at 765-8624.
  • Brian Hill, a 45-year-old Fort Valley man, who in the aftermath of two strokes needs a handicap-accessible van. To donate to him, call Disability Connections at 741-1425.
  • Clara Hunter, a 75-year-old Macon woman who needs help ridding her home of bedbugs. To donate to her, call Meals on Wheels of Middle Georgia at 745-9140.
  • Joseph Pounds, 69, who decades ago was shot and seriously injured. He needs home repairs and a new wheelchair ramp. To donate to him, call Rebuilding Macon at 744-9808 or use the agency’s website at rebuildingmacon.org/donate.
  • Whitney Waters, 26, of Macon, and her children, who recently lost their home in a fire. To donate to them, call Loaves and Fishes at 741-1007, or mail contributions to: Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon, P.O. Box 825, Macon, Georgia, 31202.
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