Thanksgiving will be a little different for Bill and Angie Hood this year.
The Evans couple lost most of their belongings in an Aug. 29 fire that destroyed their Bridlewood Trail home. But the Hoods say they have plenty to be thankful for.
“We’re thankful for this community,” Angie Hood said. “For my job. For our friends. For our neighbors.”
The Hoods say the event opened their eyes to much love and generosity. Friends and family, as well as strangers, tried to help the Hoods cope by donating money, opening their homes and even offering to buy pizzas while the Hoods worked to clear their burned-out home.
A few days after the fire, two young boys rode up on their bicycles and said they’d gone door-to-door collecting for the Hoods. They presented them with an envelope containing $12.
“I can’t get over the graciousness of everyone,” Bill Hood said. “The support we’ve gotten from this community, it changes you. Now you are more aware (of others’ struggles).”
The couple’s dentist, Dr. Perry Davis, is allowing the Hoods to live in his lakefront home in Lincoln County while they rebuild.
The lake house is where the Hoods will do what they’ve always done: welcome their large family for Thanksgiving.
“You just keep on keeping on,” said Angie Hood, who said she loves to cook and entertain. “It’d hurt my feelings if I didn’t get to (host Thanksgiving).”
The Hoods and their two sons – Kory, 22, and Blayne, 19 – were not at home when the fire started just after noon. Firefighters rescued the family’s two Pomeranians, Tobey and Hoodzy, who were under a shelf in the laundry room with water raining on them.
Fire officials said the fire started with the heating and air conditioning unit in the attic. The blaze destroyed most of the second floor, and the rest of the home was badly damaged by water and smoke.
The couple’s home and most of its contents were destroyed.
“I call it a spiritual and materialistic cleansing because it really is,” Bill Hood said. “You can sit down and cry about it all day. But really and truly, we’re good. We just lost stuff.”
After the fire, the Hoods said they grabbed anything salvageable, which wasn’t much since mold and mildew grew quickly. They admitted they emotionally grabbed all the wedding and baby photos, but most were beyond repair.
Losing those irreplaceable items is all that upsets Mrs. Hood.
“The worst is the baby pictures and stuff we didn’t have on disc,” Angie Hood said. “I had a lot hanging upstairs. When I see those lying there burned, that’s when I get emotional. … That’s what makes me cry.”
Builder Jerry Vaughn is removing all the damaged areas of the home including most of the second floor and brick.
“What do you do?” Angie Hood said. “You dust off and keep on going.”
They are planning some changes, including a two-sided fireplace and removing a few walls.
“I think we’re both stubborn,” Angie Hood said. “We’re like, ‘This isn’t going to get us down.’ We’re going to get up, dust off and cry every now and then. Get back up and go.”