Rescue Mission Fire Chars Thrift Store

Rev. Tom Mimms has spent 20 years helping people at the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission.

"This thrift store is our bread and butter as far as helping people in the community," he said.

The store typically generates about $100,000 a year. Rev. Mimms turns that money into rent checks and utility bill payments for people who come to the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission for assistance.

"It's a very important part of our whole ministry," he said

Just like that -- in the dark hours of Friday morning -- the thrift store building turned into a pile of ashes. A facility board president Ann Fleming worked so hard to create was gone.

"How could this happen to us?" she asked while staring at the charred remains of the old store.

The first person to notice the overnight fire was Daniel Curran. He spotted smoke seeping through the thrift store roof.

"So I walked over toward that way," Curran said, pointing to a spot at the southern tip of the building. "Then the whole thing just started smoking. Dialed 911. Called the Rev."

The Rev is Reverend Mimms. He knows a thing or two about salvaging items from disaster scenes. Just 10 months ago, he orchestrated the rescue mission's recovery after Katrina.

"And God will get us through this one also," the reverend said. "He prepared us through the hurricane, I guess. We're going to be all right."

On the morning after the fire, rescue mission borders carried clothing from an adjoining warehouse to the old chapel.

"We're going to make that our store," Rev. Mimms said. "It's just my way of thumbing the nose at the devil and saying you're not going to get us down."

Fleming concurred.

"We'll survive it. We survived Katrina and we'll come back from this," she said.

The comeback begins Monday morning at seven -- when the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission's temporary store opens.

Fortunately, Friday morning's fire didn't do any damage to the Gulf Coast Rescue Mission's shelter area. Since Katrina, the rescue mission has operated the only shelter in Harrison County. Thursday night, 35 people were staying on the rescue mission grounds.