OPD detective, family grateful for community’s response

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Detective Hardie Meeks and his family lost most of their material possessions last week when their house caught on fire.

However, after the smoke cleared, they discovered they had a whole lot of people who loved and respected them.

The fire started inside their home in the Gumtree subdivision around 4 p.m. While Meeks and his wife, Katrina, were at work and their two children were at school. Their dog, Cesar, was still inside in his kennel.

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Before Lafayette County firefighters were on scene, two Oxford Police Department officers were on scene getting Cesar safely out of the mouse and moving a vehicle away from the fire. Two neighbors tried to put the fire out with water hoses.

The firefighters managed to put the fire out, but smoke and fire heavily damaged much of the house. The State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the cause of the fire.

Friends and coworkers arrived as soon as they heard about the fire to offer help and a local pastor came to pray with the family.

“Freddie and Melanie Pinion with Alfa Insurance arrived on scene to comfort us and let us know not to worry about the material things or the house because would handle that,” Meeks said. “My sisters and brothers in blue lined the street with OPD cars to lend a helping hand. One of the OPD’s employees picked up our kids from the Boys and Girls Club and kept them busy. We had neighbors from the nearby community walking up to offer clothes and food.”

Before the fire trucks left the scene, a friend arranged for the Meekses to stay in a suite at Townplace Suites by Marriott.

“The quick response showed me that we are not alone,” Meeks said. “We knew there would be people walking this long road with us. It showed me that even though we did not have blood relatives in Lafayette County, we still had family. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support.”

Several organizations immediately began collecting clothes, food, toys, toiletries and other items for the Meekses.

“We had to place a lot of the items in storage because we had nowhere to put them,” Meeks said. “We go to the storage and get items as needed. We are saving every leftover penny from the monetary donations for living room furniture, bedroom furniture, et cetera.”

Meeks said he and his family are still staying at the hotel until they can find a home to rent until he can find something permanent.

The Meekses moved into the Gumtree home in 2014. Katrenia is a Family Advocate with Family Crisis Services. The couple has not yet returned to their jobs, but Meeks said they plan to later this week. While they get tired, mentally and physically, their faith remains strong, he said.

“We have not questioned why it happened,” he said. “We know God is using us to bring people together and for us to bring glory to His name.”

Meeks said he appreciates the support shown to him and his family including OPD, the OPD Peace Officers Association, Lafayette County Law Enforcement Officer Association, Family Crisis Services, Cannon Motors, the Tannehill, Carmean and McKenzie law firm, Alfa Insurance, Townplace Suites by Marriott, Your Extra Closet, Ole Miss Athletics, Union Hill M.B. Church and the multitudes of individuals who donated to his family.

“We would like to thank everyone who sent texts, called, sent Facebook messages, donated, wanted to donate but could not donate, prayed, hugged us, and sent positive vibes. Thanks to Lafayette County Fire Department for doing such an awesome job. Thanks to everyone who came to the scene to comfort us. Thanks to every church that checked on us and prayed for us,” Meeks said.

“We served and will continue to serve the LOU community with all our heart because we always knew LOU would take care of us when and if we needed help. Bless each and every one of you.”