Help comes in after lightning strike

Steve Thompson has seen a lot of offers to help after his auto mechanic shop was struck by lightning over a week ago as a fire then burned most of the structure to the ground on the west side of Pauls Valley. (PV Democrat photo by Mike Arie)

Many in the Pauls Valley community have been showing up to help a local man who hasn't shied away from helping someone else in need.

Now it's Steve Thompson's time to be on the receiving end from others wanting to help him after a lightning strike during a storm just over a week ago set off a fire that leveled his auto mechanic building just west of PV.

Along with the building, lost in the blaze were all of his tools from a lifetime of mechanic work and numerous cars.

Thompson's daughter, Christy Tountas, also doesn't shy away from talking about the heavy impact this fire has had on her father's mechanic work, which is also part of his wrecker service.

“This was devastating to him,” she said. “He had so many personal items in there that can't be replaced.

“My dad is used to working hard and doing what he can to help others. This put a halt to that.

“A lot of his job was a ministry. Anybody in need of financial help or anything else, my dad would try to make it happen.

“You forget, your thumbprint, how far it goes in the community.”

It was back on May 15 when a storm packing heavy rains, briefly flooding parts of Pauls Valley, moved into the area.

A bolt of lightning came from the storm clouds striking Thompson's auto salvage shop where he repaired vehicles. The subsequent fire then burned the building to the ground.

The aftermath of the smoldering ruins essentially shut down Thompson's longtime business serving the community for decades.

Tountas says the lightning alone was a scary experience that won't be easily forgotten by anyone in the area near her father's shop.

“The big building that got struck was his large mechanic shop,” Tountas said. “No one was in the shop at the time. Dad was out on a wrecker call at the time.

“We think it was caused by an antennae on top of the building and lightning struck the antennae.

“We live down the road and the lightning strike was so loud. It was like a huge boom. The lightning strike started the fire from the inside out.”

Just minutes later calls started coming in letting family members know the shop was on fire.

Since then there's been lots of folks coming to help Thompson and chances are even more on the way.

Some of those close friends decided they wanted to help by setting up a Go Fund Me page online in Steve Thompson's name. The goal is to raise at least $10,000.

“Due to the damages and the loss of his income, out of compassion, there were some people that started a Go Fund Me page,” she said.

“This is to aid in the clean up and the loss of income.”

Anyone a little more comfortable donating to a good cause in person can do that as an account in Thompson's name is expected to be set up at Pauls Valley National Bank.

As for the other kinds of help, Tountas says it's been amazing.

“We've been overwhelmed with the gratitude from all the people showing up to volunteer to help clean up, people bringing food, drink, people that just want to lift him up.”

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