Brenna Wheatley graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High in 2002, a few months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. She immediately joined the U.S. Navy.
Since then, she has been a serving as a Master of Arms, in the Navy’s police force. She has been around the world, including a tour last year in Iraq. But now, she’s without a home or belongings, including her class ring. Her apartment in Norwich, Connecticut, was destroyed by fire early Saturday in blaze that brought national news coverage.
Her mother, Joyce Wheatley of Orange County, said Brenna wasn’t in the apartment at the time. She had been dog sitting and spending the night at a friend’s house while they were out of town.
“She lost everything,” her mother said. “She lost her cat. I think that was worst than anything else.”
Brenna has renters insurance to help pay to replace things like furniture and clothing, her mother said. But she also lost irreplaceable possessions, including her LC-M class ring, and a gold cross necklace her mother gave her on her 16th birthday.
Mary Guidry of Orange is Brenna’s grandmother. She said her granddaughter came back home to Orange last year and bought a big pickup truck. Luckily, she had driven to the house to dog sit, so her truck was okay. Otherwise, Brenna is left with nothing but the few things she had in the truck.
Guidry said Brenna had “re-upped” in the Navy and used the bonus to buy the furniture, which burned Saturday.
Mrs. Wheatley said Brenna had called her and told her about the fire before she heard about it on national news. At first, Brenna’s friends in Norwich, including some with the fire department, were worried about her and began looking for her.
For now, Brenna is staying with friends, Mrs. Wheatley said. Brenna will be transferred to Florida in six months, so at this time, she doesn’t know whether she’ll look for another apartment or continue staying with friends.
The apartment complex had 12 buildings under one roof and the fire engulfed the whole complex quickly, according to national reports. About 150 people lived in the complex of 120 apartments. All but eight of the apartments were destroyed.
Mrs. Wheatley said about three or four other residents at the apartments are in the military.
To help Brenna recover from her losses, contact her mother, Joyce Wheatley, at 409-7779-0714.