Pub donates funds to help Raleigh fire victims

(Robert Richardson | CBS North Carolina)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — At least one Raleigh fire victim’s family will have all of their costs covered thanks to a St. Patrick’s Day party.

The American Red Cross received $3,000 Wednesday from The Hibernian. The pub’s staff had its annual St. Patrick’s block party the day after last Thursday’s massive blaze, and turned the event into a fundraiser.

“It just felt like we needed to do something for our community and our neighbors because the fire was just a couple of blocks from here. A lot of those people are friends and neighbors and regulars,” Frank Bloom said.

“The first thing that came to mind was to team up with the fire department and determine a charity that would benefit our neighbors as best we could.”

The pub’s management wanted the fire department to decide which charity to support, and the firefighters chose the American Red Cross. Assistant Fire Chief Kendall Hocutt received the $3,000 check from Hibernian owner Niall Hanley, but held it in his hands for less than a minute before passing it on.

“Any time we can (we) help support that organization, because they do truly help support us and they support the citizens,” Hocutt said.

“Life has to go on, so they come in and take over and help find them shelter and maybe provide them some funding and some clothes and food until they can figure out how to get their lives back together.”

Barry Porter, the regional CEO for the American Red Cross, said the $3,000 check will make a major difference for people displaced downtown. He said that amount will cover the full impact of disaster response and recovery for one to one-and-a-half families.

The first part of Red Cross response is providing financial assistance for victims. Porter said that includes money to buy food and clothing, to pay for shelter, and making arrangements to get essential medicines covered. He said 1,885 families in eastern North Carolina lost their homes to fires in 2015.

“In the Raleigh area, on average five to six families (a day) lose their homes to fires, and in this case last week, we had nearly 100 families that have ended up coming to us because of that large fire at the Metropolitan complex downtown,” Porter said.

He said with the exception of hurricanes, it’s the largest number of families to come to the Red Cross for assistance from a single-day event since a tornado hit Wake County in September 2011.

Porter said the partnership between firefighters and the Red Cross is crucial, as they work in tandem during the transition from response to recovery.

“When the firefighters have saved lives and property, then they can turn to those families, as they’re rolling up their hoses and putting away their gear, they can say the Red Cross is here and they’re going to provide comfort and direction and financial support,” Porter said.

He added that he has great gratitude for the support shown to the Red Cross by the community during the aftermath of the fire.

“Small businesses like The Hibernian Pub are the backbone of America’s economy, and for them to share with their patrons and from their own coffers to support families that are in disaster, is just a very good blessing,” Porter said.

The Hibernian caught fire on December 26, 2012. The pub’s director of marketing said the staff has a soft spot for firefighters and police officers, and wants to be a good neighbor that gives back.

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