When a fire broke out in , they were attending Kevin's mother's funeral.
"It's been a long four months," Alissa said by phone on Monday, referring to her mother-in-law Nancy Mulligan's illness. Fourteen years ago, Kevin had given a kidney to his mother. In June, she went into renal failure, again.
When Alissa drove home after the funeral to get some clothes so the family could stay over with her father-in-law, she was shocked to find the had blocked Fairview Avenue, and even more shocked to learn her home had been on fire.
Most of their possessions were lost in the fire or damaged by smoke and water inside their rental, Alissa said. Some friends tried washing clothes at 's , but only some were still usable. A few sentimental items were saved, like a collection of clay Budhas, Alissa said, but that was it.
The one blessing, she said, was that Mouse, a beagle the Mulligans got as a distraction from their grandmother's illness just a few months ago, was rescued in the fire.
One of the rescueers, foreman Terry Nesbitt went into the house, under heavy smoke, and carried out the dog in his crate. Nesbitt, a volunteer with the , said he was around the corner working when he heard the call come over the radio. He drove by the house, asking bystanders if there was anyone inside.
"They are a family of modest means," reads a flier being passed around on Facebook and by email from the East End Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money for families in need. "This tragedy has created an enormous financial burden on them."
Kevin is a custodian at the and a member of the that's mission is to help community members in their time of need. Alissa is a 13th generation Bonacker from Springs. The couple have three children; Kaya, 11, Ocean, 9, and Tellulah, who just turned 6.
The family stayed a motel for a week and now is staying in Amagansett, but needs to rent another house. First they need to find another good deal like the one they had in Montauk. Alissa said they are willing to live in another hamlet of town. They also gather up enough money for first and last month's rents and a security deposit. People are donating things like beds, appliances, clothes and furniture. "I have nowhere to put them yet," Alissa said.
Already, people have pledged they will help on Facebook. One person wrote, "While I cannot help monitarily..... I do have furniture that i have not used and is sitting in storage along w/ things like dishes etc.... I would be more than happy to give to them!!!"
Alissa said the support from the foundation and the community has been amazing. "I'm out of words at this point," she said. "My children have so many mommys and daddys and brothers and sisters," she said.
A bartender at the , Alissa is not working right now, as she helps her children cope with the loss and the change. She is also recovering herself, from having fell down the stairs at the house they're staying at, and breaking her ribs.
Donations can be sent to the East End Foundation, P.O. Box 1746, Montauk, NY 11954. Donors have to write "Mulligan" on the check so that the money goes to the faimly.