EL JOBEAN — At 22, Brianna Meeker was excited to have her own place with her fiancé and two children.
That’s until Tropical Storm Eta flooded and destroyed nearly all of their belongings.
In early November, as the storm threatened significant rain and high winds, Meeker, her fiancé J.D. Fremming, 23, packed up a week’s worth of stuff for their two children and pets and evacuated from their low-lying home near the El Jobean bridge.
The couple understood there would be some flooding in the yard, but never realized it would wreck everything inside the home.
“We had only lived there for three months,” she said. “When we came home, we were horrified. The tropical storm flooded the house badly. We lost 95% of our stuff. All of our clothing, the kid’s clothing, toys, bedding and furniture was water damaged. We lost our China hutch, the children’s books, cabinets with food and snacks.
“I didn’t feel safe bringing my children back to that house as it smelled like mold in the wall by the chimney, which was supposed to be sealed off,” she said. “As I went to plug in my air conditioning unit, I realized the water was so high it fried the outlet.”
Now, the couple is struggling to replace clothing and other items for their son Declan, 3, and daughter Delanie, 5 months.
“I don’t have the money to replace these things and give my kids a Christmas, as we were not expecting all of this to happen,” Meeker said. “I really need to get into my own place again, my mother can only have us here for so long. We were on our own as an established family. We need our own space because my kids need their own room, their own home again.
“I’ve been able to get some items and store them at family members’ houses,” she said. “This whole situation just put me and my little family down and out.”
Meeker estimates the family suffered about $7,000 in damaged goods. She even lost the dog food and toys for the family’s 3-year old mixed-breed dog Diesel.
“It’s going to cost about $3,000 to get into a new rental,” she said. “We really want to stay in the Englewood area. What I loved about the area I lived in was the quietness, the willingness to help each other out and the friendly neighbor attitude. You don’t get that anywhere else other then Englewood. But right now, I’m just looking for a stable safe roof to put over my kids’ heads.”
Hearing the family is in need, longtime Englewood resident Kendra Porter, of Porter Contracting, is offering to be a drop off site for donations, small household goods and toys.
Like many little boys, Declan likes Nerf guns, Hot Wheels cars, children’s books, Thomas the Tank Engine and Paw Patrol. They’d like to replace the Minnie Mouse crib, a baby swing, sit and stand double stroller and forward-facing car seat for Delanie. The couple also needs clothing, pots and pans and other kitchen items.
“Replacing our kids’ stuff and getting the money together to get into somewhere else is our top priorities right now,” she said. “We were in shock at first. Now we are in survival mode. We are grateful to Kendra and others who have already helped. We really hope we can stay in Englewood. We love it here.”
Porter Contracting is accepting donations at 3579 S. Access Road, Suite G, Englewood. For more information, call 941-249-0265.