Nowlin, wanting to help his community, joined with a loose group of local volunteers known as the Community Rehab Project of Comanche County to rebuild after a large fire. Nowlin is quick to point out, “This isn’t any kind of official organization. This is a pretty great group of people taking action to help their neighbors and community.”
Shalor Nowlin, a wind technician at Logan’s Gap Wind in Comanche for the last seven years, is a part of a tight knit community impacted by the Eastland Complex Fire which burned over 50,000 acres and destroyed 100 homes.
He and a group of other local volunteers have come together to rebuild homes and support neighbors and community members recover.
The Eastland Complex Fire
In March of 2022, a recreational vehicle (RV) traveling through Texas had a tire blowout. It pulled off the road for repairs, and the dry grass under the RV caught fire and spread.
Before it was finally extinguished, the Eastland Complex Fire destroyed 54,513 acres, 100 homes, and tragically claimed the life of a Sheriff’s Deputy. Read about the heroic efforts of the DeLeon VFD fighting the fire here: De Leon Volunteer Fire Department.
The fire was historic for the damage it did and Nowlin, wanting to help his community, joined with a loose group of local volunteers known as the Community Rehab Project of Comanche County to rebuild. Nowlin is quick to point out, “This isn’t any kind of official organization. This is a pretty great group of people taking action to help their neighbors and community.”
“Every June, all the churches in Comanche County and beyond bring out their youth groups to help members of the community, and that’s where the name ‘Community Rehab Project’ comes from,” Nowlin said. “The Eastland Complex Fire… that was a whole different situation altogether. 70% of the people who lost their homes didn’t have insurance. Our community is tight, most folks look out for each other.”
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Nowlin said immediately after the fire, he and other locals spent two weeks hauling and distributing hay to local ranchers whose hay had burned in the fire.
Now, the group is building houses to help their neighbors who lost theirs. “We just finished roughing out the second of three houses we’re building on our small team,” Nowlin said. “We framed two of them, and roughed them in with plumbing and electrical. They are ready for a roof, sheetrock and all the interior.”
Nowlin said the churches throughout the community realized they needed to act. “The Cowboy Church in Stephenville donated their mission funds for this year to helping folks in the community recover,” he said. “It’s things like that here in our community that brought us all together.”
Nowlin emphasized that “this was a grassroots, word of mouth situation spread first through churches and then out to their communities. The church community across Comanche and beyond turned out people, and so I got together with a group of guys to get to work helping our community.”
Family and the future
“Our community has faced a lot of challenges recently,” he said. “We are going through a drought, and even the land is different than twenty years ago, which contributes to fires.”
He explained that the grassland used to be peanut farms twenty years ago, and after the harvest there would be nothing in the fields to burn. “Now,” he says, “the land has changed based on how we’re using it for cattle, and the grass catches fire; we have a fire season now.”
Looking forward, Nowlin is confident the community will continue to support each other as his family grows. “For the last ten years,” he said, “when something bad happens, the community has been there to help each other. This is a great community to be a part of.”