PORT OF SPAIN – Some 36 people are now homeless after a fire destroyed over a dozen homes in Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday night.
When the T&T Guardian visited the area yesterday, the residents called for assistance as they will be staying with neighbours or friends until they can rebuild.
Several residents were searching through some of the ruins seeking to salvage whatever they could. Teenagers and other youngsters meanwhile picked through burnt appliances looking for pieces of copper they could sell.
Members of various agencies were on the scene and many of the residents walked around with the documents so they could access the Self-Help Programme.
However, Esther Dyer, 61, refused to go anywhere, saying she would stay in the back of her damaged house.
“I living here 40 years. I was home and I didn’t know anything, I was inside watching TV. I have no choice. I going and stay there,” she said.
Resident Glenda Clement, 68, seemed more preoccupied by the loss of her DIRECTV service.
“I was working in Belmont and when I reach a girl told me. I staying by a friend in the front. You know about DIRECTV and if it would still be running?” she asked.
Shawn Dyer and his common-law wife Anne Marie, a Canadian national, tried to placate Clement and told her to contact them.
“We were out in the front and saw the fire. I tried to see if I could get something. They start the bucket brigade but things done in a mess,” Dyer said.
Dyer said he and his wife would be staying with a friend.
“Everything burn down. I could do with a little assistance. My passport and everything was in there. I looked in to get something and the fire already spread,” he said, pointing to the left over ruins.
Tricia Simmons, a Ministry of Planning employee and part time employee at the Fire Service Auxiliary, said she was at the station when she received a call on her cell phone.
“All I heard was the house burning down. I leave the things at the station and leave on the appliance (fire truck),” she said.
Simmons said she was shocked at seeing the fire after having lived in Sea Lots for many years.
“It was just a few months ago I got the keys (for new home). I am from Sea Lots, I don’t damn the bridge I come from. These are my family,” she said.
Simmons said four of her relatives stayed in the house and her cousin jumped out a window to save his life.
Councillor for the area Allan Samuel said the residents will be given items to assist them. He confirmed 36 adults and 12 children were displaced by the fire. The residents were given several mattresses on Tuesday night by Port-of-Spain City Corporation members.
“We had Self-Help Housing Programme help us and we did some assessment and some of the people will be getting more help than others,” Samuel said.
Samuel said MP Marlene McDonald also visited the residents on Tuesday night and offered assistance.
“She wanted to give them houses but some did not want to move,” he said, adding residents would be given items and assistance to make a structure.
“They will get things to keep them a float for now. Some are totally out of it,” he said.
Contacted yesterday, acting deputy fire officer Mervyn Layne said the cause of the fire was yet to be determined.