East Texas community rallies around San Augustine city worker after house fire

SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (KTRE) – Dozens of workers and crews are trying to address water issues in the city of San Augustine after last week’s storm, including a city official who is struggling even more at home.

“We’re facing a water crisis right now, and I feel like I’ve been here the longest,” said San Augustine water and wastewater superintendent Chris Anding. “I know the system. I know plants. I know what needs to happen to get us out of this crisis.

Solving the problem weighs heavily on Anding, in addition to what he personally faces.

“It’s been a journey over the past few months,” he said.

In November, he, his wife and several family members were diagnosed with COVID-19. On Thanksgiving Day, Anding was taken to the hospital as his condition worsened.

“The doctor called me on the phone and said, ‘we’ve given you all the plasma we can give you, all the antibodies we can give you, all the steroids we can give you, that’s just to God’s sake now,'” Anding recalled. “You don’t know if you’re going to live or die.”

He spent 25 days in intensive care. Isolated. However, the members of the community send him their best wishes.

“It gave me hope that I would come out,” Anding said.

And he did. Two weeks ago, he said after tests on his lungs, doctors said he had only 58% lung capacity.

“I’m getting better and doing better,” Anding said. “I’m on light duty.”

Then late Tuesday afternoon on his way home from work, he received more devastating news.

“My wife calls me,” Anding said. “I’m about a mile from my house and she’s like, ‘Our house is on fire’.”

He said his wife and daughter were home at the time, but luckily they made it out safely.

“The house was completely involved and we lost everything,” Anding said. “The clothes we had are the clothes we had left.”

Once again the community stepped in, sending food, clothing, money, prayers and more to help.

“The compassion everyone had; it’s just humbling,” Anding said. “They just don’t know how grateful we are.”

Still, Anding was at work Friday, as he has been for weeks.

“This is where I feel like I need to be,” he said. “I have people who are counting on me to provide and help the city in the situation they find themselves in.”

San Augustine Mayor Leroy Hughes said the city is grateful for his dedication to its residents.

“All I can say is he’s got a heart and works hard,” Hughes said.

“The good Lord spared me twice; spared my wife and everyone,” Anding said. “So, I’m grateful. From every bad situation, something good will come out of it. I don’t know what God’s plan is for us, but it will manifest sooner or later.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire. Anding said they have insurance, but the community support has been overwhelming.

For now, Anding and his family are staying in an RV until they decide on their next move.

Hughes said if you wish to make a donation, you can leave it with the Anding family at City Hall.

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