Surprise Squad helps first responders hit with COVID-19, damaged home
EASTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- An Easthampton couple, on the front lines of the pandemic, took one hit after another last year. They were some of the first in our state to catch COVID-19 and as they recovered, the pipes burst in their home and created a year-long mess that they struggled to fix.
When the Surprise Squad caught wind of that, they had to step in.
“I am humbled by them and the work that they do,” said Alexis Horne.
Horne described her son, McLellan White, and his girlfriend, Carissa Weeks. The young couple are considered heroes by many, even more so in the time of COVID-19 as they work the front line of the pandemic.
White is a paramedic and Weeks is a 911 dispatcher.
“It’s very scary at first. Unfortunately, it’s become how life is now, at the moment,” White noted.
However, the two have done more than work and interact where infections are present. They’ve battled it first-hand. In April, as the novel virus ravaged the northeast, each received a positive diagnosis.
White added, “So I was more or less bed ridden for a little while with fatigue, unable to eat, obviously the dry cough.”
“I got hit with every single symptom, just week after week, instead of all at once like he did,” Weeks said.
As Weeks and White found out when it rains, it pours.
“The sewage line from the house to the street went out,” White explained.
Weeks added, “I got out of the shower and it sounded like it was raining really loud. The fan was dripping, the lights were dripping. It was just covered in water everywhere in here.”
[Reporter: Does insurance cover any of that?]
“No. Well, they covered a little but because of the deductible, the drying it out,” Weeks said.
White added, “We met our deductible by what? $2?”
Nearly a year later, the need for repairs remained.
Horne reached out to the Western Mass News Surprise Squad, sponsored by the Hyundai Dealers of Western Mass., for help.
“With how much they’ve devoted themselves to helping others and to have gotten COVID and then to have your house fall apart around you while quarantining was devastating,” Horne explained.
We took their issue to Brendan Fogarty, the owner of the home service company Dr. Energy Saver by Eco Energy Solutions, who didn’t hesitate to help.
“To be able to take someone’s tangible problem and fixing it forever!? There’s no reward bigger than that,” Forgarty said.
Now, we just had to tell our first responder couple. Thinking we were there to chat about their recent experience with the vaccine, our conversation took a turn.
[Reporter: We’re here to kinda help fix some of that damage inside the house. Your boyfriend, McLellan, has been working with it, the sponsors of the Surprise Squad have been working it. Also, McLellan’s mom as well, so congratulations, you’re getting some of that house fixed.]
“Really?” Weeks said.
[Reporter: We heard about your story and for all of the things you guys have been through, being first responders, going through COVID, and the unthinkable happening to your house, we want to step in and help out.]
“Surprise!” White said
Weeks replied, “Really? Thank you.”
“On behalf of the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers, we are so grateful for all that you do and, of course, feel for what you been through, putting your life on the line daily to keep us safe. We really appreciate that and we wanted to help you take care of the problem that you have with your house,” said Gary Rome from Gary Rome Hyundai.
Brian Houser from Balise Hyundai added, “We hope this $1,000 goes a long way. Unfortunately, we sell cars, not furniture, but we hope this goes a long way to get you back on track and back to life.”
“We going to repair all of the ceilings, we’re going to give you a brand-new floor. All of that old wood is going to get freshly painted and stained, all new trim,” Fogarty noted.
[Reporter: Are you guys excited?]
“Very. I just want to hug everyone and I know I can’t,” Weeks said.
Days later, the transformation began. The holes in the ceiling were patched, the floor getting a whole new look, and a fresh coat of purplish paint that goes great with Weeks’ hair.
“It is amazing. It is so bright. Before, it was a dark room. Just walking into here just like drained you and now, it’s so bright and light and happy…It’s amazing knowing that people are helping other people. We didn’t expect to get this room done for a long time, so it’s been a while, so we just kept waiting until we could afford it. Knowing that there are people out there willing to help us, it’s amazing,” Weeks explained.
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