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

Chris Anding and his family lost their home to a house fire Tuesday after he battled COVID-19 in November.

Community rallies around San Augustine city worker after house fire

SAN AUGUSTINE, Texas (KTRE) - Dozens of workers and crews are out trying to fix the water issues in the City of San Augustine after last week’s storm, including one city official who is battling even more at home.

“We’re dealing with 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 the plants. I know what needs to happen to get us out of this crisis.”

Fixing the problem weighs heavy on Anding, on top of what he is dealing with personally.

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

Back 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.

“Doctor called me on the phone and said, ‘we’ve gave you all the plasma we can give you, all the antibodies we can give you, all the steroids we can give you, it’s just up to the good Lord now,’” Anding recalled. “You don’t know if you’re going to live or die.”

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

“That 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 only had 58-percent lung capacity.

“I am improving and doing better,” Anding said. “I am on light duty.”

Then late Tuesday afternoon while coming home from work, he received more devastating news.

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

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

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

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

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

Despite it all, Anding was at work Friday, like he has been for weeks.

“This is where I feel I need to be,” he said. “I’ve got people depending on me to provide and help the city in the situation they’re in.”

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

“All I can say is he has the heart, and he is working hard,” Hughes said.

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

Officials are still investigating what caused the fire. Anding said they did have insurance, but the community’s support has been overwhelming.

At the moment, Anding and his family are staying in a camper until they decide what their next move is going to be.

Hughes said if you would like to make a donation, you can leave it for the Anding family at City Hall.

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