Livingston shows Southern Hospitality

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 14, 2005

LIVINGSTON-Citizens, rescue teams and local businesses proved Saturday how strong Southern hospitality is in the Sumter County city of Livingston. A bus traveling through the city was destroyed by fire leaving its 65 passengers in the rain with nowhere to go. However, the response to the accident was fast and the generosity of the city made things a little more bearable for its victims.

Livingston Mayor Tom Tartt said the problems began when flames broke out on the bus as it traveled through town.

“We had a situation here over the weekend where a tour bus full of students who had been doing some missionary work completely caught fire,” Tartt said. “The bus was completely engulfed in flames and destroyed.”

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Tartt said emergency personnel quickly extinguished the flames and took the passengers to a safety and in the process, saved most of their baggage.

“Chief Peeler and the Department of Public Safety quickly responded to the scene,” Tartt said. “Most of the baggage in the compartment underneath the bus was saved.”

From there the local hospital and university threw their efforts together to get the victims dry, comfortable and safe as quickly as possible. Tartt said several organizations put an effort into creating a habitat for the victims.

“Everyone came together to make sure they were comfortable,” Tartt said. “Hill Hospital gave them pillows and blankets to use and the University of West Alabama opened up the Student Union so that they could rest on the cots until they were able to go home.”

Almost everything on the bus was destroyed, which in many cases meant the passengers shoes. However, Tartt said a local business again came through to solve the problem.

“Unfortunately, most everything that was on the bus was destroyed,” Tartt said. “For most of them, that meant their shoes. However, Wal-Mart came through and donated several pair of flip flops and sandals for them to wear on their way home.”

Tartt said he was extremely encouraged by the effort and wanted everyone who threw in an effort to know how much they appreciated them.

“I would just like to commend everyone who helped out,” Tartt said. “It was very encouraging to see the people come out and help like that and we want you to know that it was appreciated.”