Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“More Than I Expected”

Brendan (left) and Eric Hodges

As trained volunteer firefighters, brothers Eric and Brendan Hodges were very familiar with putting out fires, but they had never been the victims of one.

Early one Saturday morning in November, Eric was working at his computer. Around 4 am, he started to smell smoke in their third floor apartment. His first instinct was to make sure nothing had fallen onto their radiator. But as he entered the living room, Eric saw flames coming from the bathroom; the window blinds were ablaze upon the floor. He turned on the shower to put out the fire, but then he noticed flames coming from the ceiling and wall.

Eric ran to his brother’s room to wake him up. While Eric grabbed his wallet and put some shoes on, Brendan also tried to put out the fire; but despite his best efforts, he couldn’t get it under control. Their apartment was quickly filling with smoke, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to see or breathe, so Eric and Brendan left. Eric called 911, and Brendan ran through the three-story building banging on his neighbors’ doors. Thankfully, everyone got out.

An attendant from the gas station next door saw the flames and came over to make sure everyone was okay. He noticed Brendan standing outside without a shirt or shoes, gave him the sweatshirt off his back, and invited the brothers to come in out of the cold. Soon the Fire Department showed up, and the Red Cross was right behind them.

As volunteer firefighters, Eric (in Florida) and Brendan (in Delaware) had witnessed and helped contain hundreds of fires, but none of that prepared them for being on the other side of the experience—having it be their home.

They had no idea that the Red Cross offered Disaster Relief services to victims of fire. They were surprised to learn that not only would the Red Cross provide them with a place to stay, but that volunteers would also drive them to the hotel. The Red Cross also helped them make arrangements for the long-term housing they’ll need until their apartment is restored.

Eric and Brendan lost everything in the fire, including 50 pounds of dry-cleaning fresh from the cleaners. In fact, Brendan, who ran out shirtless and shoeless, had just moved into the apartment two months earlier. Given the magnitude of their loss, Eric and Brendan are grateful to the Red Cross for providing them with funds to buy food and clothes—not to mention a pair of shoes for Brendan.

The Red Cross is “Amazing … really awesome … more than I expected,” say the easy-going brothers. In response to the help and guidance they received from the Red Cross, Eric and Brendan said simply, “Thank you, thank you.”

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