DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Durham couple lost everything they owned in a house fire, including their beloved dog.
The couple’s daughter became known as the “Durham Lunch Lady,” after she raised $60,000 to pay off school lunch debt for Durham students.
“I had images of it driving up to the house, but it was nothing to what I saw,” Cathy Meek said. “It was just a black hole. It was just unbelievably horrific.”
Cathy and David Meek know what it feels like to lose everything in an instant.
On Tuesday, the Durham couple’s home went up in flames while they were not there.
“When I pulled up the only thing I wanted to know was where my dog was,” said David Meek. “I was screaming it.”
Their dog Maya didn’t make it out alive. Firemen buried the pup in the family’s yard.
The Meek family says this was more than just their house — it was their home and a place where every member of their family has lived at some point over the years.
The family has not been back to the home since the fire because it’s too painful.
“That’s what’s so hard, the memories,” David Meek said.
Not everything is replaceable. The couple lost generations of family photos in the blaze. Fire officials are still investigating what caused the fire.
“What goes through our mind is that had this happened at night we probably would not have made it out of the house,” Cathy said. “It was so fast. The house is a two-story and it had burned all the walls in the middle of the house, burned through the floor and that was within an hour.”‘
Now the couple is trying to rebuild their life from the ashes.
“My neighbor came out and wrote me a check in the driveway,” David Meek said. “Now if that’s not community, it’s unbelievable.”
The Meeks are staying with their daughter Rebekah Miel. A couple of months ago, Miel started a GoFundMe page. It’s raised more than $60,000 to help needy Durham children pay off their school lunch debt.
“I was overwhelmed with the community support with the school lunch debt and now the folks who supported that campaign are also supporting my parents and that means a lot,” Miel said.
The community has donated more than $11,000 to the couple. The money will be used to buy clothes and basic necessities.
Their home is insured, but Miel says it will likely only cover a small portion of the loss. The Meeks are hoping to rebuild their home on the same land.
A fundraising page for the family is available here.
To donate toward paying down school lunch debt, click here.
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