After the village of Garrettsfille suffered from a fire last week, the community is now coming together more than ever — and that includes support from across the world. TV2’s Vivian Feke takes a look at how the small town is recovering in a big way.
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Garrettsville, Ohio, suffered the loss of 13 of its historic downtown businesses last week.
Garrettsville, located in Portage County, is a small village with a population of roughly 2,000 people.
Attorney Dann Timmons lost his law business in the fire, and said it’s difficult to drive past the area where his business once was.
“You drive by and you see owners of these shops digging through pieces of inventory, and that’s tough to see,” said Timmons.
Timmons said he was in the building when the fire began, shortly after 1 p.m. on March 22.
“When I walked down the hall, the flames had already gone through the walls and were coming down the heating ducts as I came out,” said Timmons. “You always know that possibility is there, but you never think it’s going to happen.”
The cause of the fire is still undetermined.
Garrettsville Mayor Rick Patrick said the village of Garrettsville is just like a big family.
“We need to do all we can,” said Patrick. “It’s been a tragedy in our town. Everyone in our town knows everyone.”
Despite the fire’s outcome, Patrick said the community is coming together more than ever to support the businesses lost in the flames.
“Insurance won’t cover everything,” said Patrick. “It will affect all the businesses.”
Once the fire was put out by more than 30 fire departments in the surrounding area, support from across the nation began flooding in to Garrettsville.
Long-time resident Asher Wilthew said the Twitter hashtag ‘#GarrettsvilleStrong,’ helped to increase support.
“It became viral on the internet,” said Wilthew. “It helped spread donations around.”
The Twitter hashtag even helped create support from other countries.
Garrettsville Chamber of Commerce President Benjamin Coll said within hours of the fire, he had dozens of requests from people with fundraiser ideas. Coll said the motto ‘Garrettsville Strong’ helped to keep the community engaged.
“From there it snowballed, and it’s become the motto behind the whole event,” said Coll.
Coll said he has seen donations from California, Texas, and even Australia.
The village will keep supporting its small community throughout the entire clean-up and rebuilding process.
“Slowly we’re starting to piece together,” said Timmons. “I’ve been an attorney for 27 years, and so much of that was lost.”
Timmons said the most difficult part of losing his business was being unable to retrieve his client’s files and court documents.
“People are more concerned about us than their files.”
-Dann Timmons, Attorney
“We’ve got to be more diligent about backing up our information,” said Timmons.
Despite the loss of many important files, Timmons said the support from his clients has been overwhelming. Timmons said when people call in, the first thing they ask is how he is doing.
“People are more concerned about us than their files,” Timmons said, becoming emotional. “It’s nice to see.”
Garrettsville will continue to piece together its community, and remain strong in hard times.
“It’s almost like we lost a piece of Garrettsville,” said Wilthew. “But we will definitely come back strong.”