Barge strikes houseboat

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A suburban community outside Chicago has rallied around a family of three after an out-of-control barge slammed into and destroyed their houseboat last week.

Residents of Joliet, Ill., have offered cash and shelter to the Alksnis-Burgo family, who are staying at a local hotel and are running low on cash, news reports say. One person, identified only as “Santa Claus,” sent them $80 in cash. A retired high school janitor gave them $100. A local church gave them groceries.

“I praise the people who have helped us,” says Nila Alksnis-Burgo in a news report. Alksnis-Burgo had been living on the houseboat with her husband and their 16-year-old daughter. They had been tied up against the BicentennialPark river wall for about six months. All three were on board when the barge struck their houseboat, but managed to get off the boat unharmed.

After the accident the Coast Guard ordered the family to move the damaged boat to a marina, reports say. The family and the company that reportedly owns the barge, B & H Towing, have not come to terms on a settlement. The company has upped its offer of $12,000 to $14,000, but the family calls the amount “unsatisfactory.”

The amount the family receives from the towing company will go towards purchasing a new boat, they say in reports. Until then the family will spend the holiday at the hotel.

“We’ve got a little Christmas tree right here at the hotel,” Nila Alksnis-Burgo says in a report.

Jason Fell