Survivor plans volunteer bash


SANFORD, FLORIDA (June 24, 1998) -- Backyard barbecues and the Fourth of July go hand-in-hand, but stir in a

dash of wildfires and disaster relief workers and the picture isn't as common.

Walter Lee wants to throw an uncommon bash this Independence Day to thank

the community that helped him get a new home after his was destroyed by one

of the tornadoes that swept through Florida Feb. 23.

"I want to have a barbecue and a grand opening at the same time and thank

the people who are supporting me," Lee said. The Seminole County Sheriff's

Office, the Salvation Army and the Mennonite Disaster Services are among

those Lee said he owes a debt of thanks.

Unfortunately, due to the state's current ban on outside fires, he may

have to settle for a dinner prepared in his new kitchen, but that doesn't

bother Lee.

He's been thanking God daily for sparing his life when the tornado pulled

him from his home and sent him careening through his back yard where he

held on to a clothesline pole and prayed.

The 49-year-old Sanford, Fla., resident was luckier than five of his

neighbors who

died in the storms. In all 12 people in this town of 32,000 were killed. He

is also luckier than many who are still waiting to rebuild their homes.

Lee was

chosen by Seminole County as one of seven rebuilding projects that

qualified for

Community Development Block Grant funds. Volunteers from MDS have worked

since April on his home. The interior is completed and the exterior should

be finished in time for

his planned celebration.

Lee said he's looking forward to moving into the three bedroom home with

peach walls, dark brown carpeting and a silvery gray exterior, but will

miss the mobile home that

now lies in a heap of scrape metal.

"Even though it was a mobile home, and it was an older mobile home," he

said, he

thoughts trailing off. "I don't know. I still have a sadness inside of me

for what's


Updated June 24, 1998

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