SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Three families in Johnston County lost everything in a fire a week before Christmas. One of them has just four days to find a new home.
Lamonica Brinkley is a single mom with six children. They range in age from 16 to 2. For the last two years, she’s worked at Johnston County Public Schools as a bus driver.
Since the fire on Wednesday, Brinkley and her family have been staying in a hotel room with two queen beds.
“It makes me sad. We were once, everybody had their own room. Now we’re all in one room, sharing a bed. Watching one TV. It’s just heartbreaking,” Brinkley said.
A fire destroyed her apartment on Kay Drive in Smithfield. The flames moved quickly. The roof collapsed. The building is a total loss.
Brinkley was at work at the time, driving kids home from school.
“My children’s baby pictures. School certificates. My high school diploma, which was something dear to me,” she said. “I was all done with Christmas. This was the first year in two years that I was able to actually get my children what they wanted for Christmas,” she explained.
All of that is gone. Instead, they’ll spend Christmas at the Sleep Inn and Suites.
“We’re going to have a Christmas. It’s just not going to be the Christmas we usually have,” Brinkley said.
She said her oldest children, 14 and 16 years old understand. But for her youngest, 2 and 4 years old, it’s harder.
She’s also grateful to her family, coworkers, church and community.
“I do want to thank them for all their support, help, just everything,” Brinkley said.
Brinkley said the children need new clothing. They also need a new apartment. Her hotel room is only paid up through Friday.
The First Baptist Church in Smithfield is collecting donations for the family. Jennifer Narron-Hardy is spearheading those efforts. Her cell is 919-524-2601.
A second family also impacted by this fire. Leslye Staton is also in need of a new apartment. She too lost everything. Her coworkers have started this GoFundMe for them.