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Monday 16 September 2019
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‘It have no Christmas’ in Sea Lots

‘It have no Christmas’ in Sea Lots

Francis Frederick stands in the burnt-out shell of his house at Sea Lots, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Francis Frederick stands in the burnt-out shell of his house at Sea Lots, Port of Spain, yesterday.

A day after a massive fire destroyed more than a dozen homes in their depressed community, Sea Lots residents, yesterday, claimed they received no immediate assistance from the relevant authorities.

And, with Christmas just weeks away, the residents say the season will be a bleak one as they have lost all of their possessions.

“It have no Christmas,” resident Joel Reid, 35, told Newsday.

“But in the meantime, there are immediate things we need such as bottled water and small hampers and we have not been getting anything like that.

“They gave us some forms to fill out to go down by Self Help and go from there. But in the meantime, what happens?”

The father of two, who works in Chaguanas, said his house was burnt to the ground in the fire.

Another resident, Derrick Brown, also complained about the absence of immediate support and wondered if any meaningful help would be forthcoming.

“If we get assistance now, what about next week or the other week? he asked.

The men said the affected families were in dire need of plywood, galvanize, nails, mattresses and stoves. “We know it is a process to get back everything. But if people could get a roof over their heads. That would be good,” Brown said.

About 15 families in Sea Lots were left homeless after a fire erupted from a wooden structure in the area around 6.30 pm on Tuesday.

Many of the affected families have since been given shelter at the Sea Lots West Community Centre as investigations continue into the fire. Yesterday, smoke emanated from the flattened, wooden structures as several distraught residents walked gingerly throughout the blackened remnants, still hoping to salvage items.

Newsday also spotted officials from the National Commission for Self-Help (NCSH) chatting with the residents. Curtis Simmons, 29, said his mother, Karlene, was still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her home.

He recalled seeing his sickly mother run into the house frantically when the fire erupted.

Simmons said by the time fire officers arrived, the fire had razed through about 15 houses.

“I hurt about this fire because this is my mother place and she has lost everything. So she don’t have anything, bed, stove, fridge, everything, school books, clothes.”

Simmons claimed the fire officers’ response was not timely.

Brown disagreed, saying: “The Fire Services came in a good timing but they only had one hose at the time operating. They had other hoses but only one truck had water. I thought their response was all right.” Brown said the strategy to combat the fire also was not properly thought out.

He said he was also pleased with the response of the Port of Spain South MP Marlene McDonald, Southern Port-of-Spain councillor Charlene De Peza and NCSH officials. McDonald said she intended to talk to Housing Minister Randall Mitchell about providing temporary accommodation to the Sea Lots residents who had been left homeless.

She said attempts were being made to “reinstate the residents to a state of normalcy.”

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