Seven months after a fire destroyed six houses and left 19 people homeless at Concerned Citizen Street at California, Couva, they are pleading with the authorities to help them with the rebuilding process. Two of the homeless people were pregnant and have since delivered their babies.
On Friday, affected residents said they submitted information to the National Social Development Programme (NSDP) and officials forwarded it to the Land Settlement Agency (LSA) regarding the rebuilding process. The houses were located on state lands.
Velda “Kay” Cadet, her two children and her grandson, lost everything in the fire on December 13.
Cadet said: “I don’t want to spend another Christmas by anyone. I want to spend it at my house, but I have no money. It seems we are living on promised lands, I have been living here for 30 years. I want to know why LSA is holding back our files. I am fed up and I do not even have money to be checking up on them.”
Cadet, 48, also lost two puppies and five chickens in the devastating fire which started from an abandoned house nearby.
She is staying with friends in the community.
Her 19-year-old daughter Angie Johnson delivered a son in March and must move out from the house where she is staying at Chaguanas.
They are appealing for help saying owing to limited housing space from friends and families, most of the victims have no other choice than to split up.
Days after the fire, Nisa Harry, 27, had a son at the San Fernando General Hospital.
Another victim Terrance Noel, 55, said he was renting at Penal. Noel said he was using all his personal savings to invest in materials to build a wooden house for one of his daughters.
He said: “Life is not good for us and I do not like to beg people for anything. I will start building something soon.”
His daughter Kafie Noel, 25, said she was renting nearby and was anxious to have her own home. The mother of two said she did not enjoy Christmas last year and did not want to “celebrate” it in such manner this year.
Kafie told Newsday: “Renting is dead money. I can't wait to be in my house. Families are separated and last year was the worse Christmas we ever had.”
Father of three, Anderson Ashton, said, with help, he was building a ply house. His wife and daughter are staying with relatives in Chaguanas while he is living with his two sons.
“It has been seven months and LSA is processing our documents. I am begging and scrapping up to survive. I am in debt. Right now, I am owing the parlour woman $300. Every little money I get, I am investing it in my children’s education, for food and the house,” Ashton said.
One of his sons starts secondary school from September and Ashton must pay school fees.
Ashton said: “The other son would be in standard five from September so that is another preparation for SEA exams that is coming up. I have it hard. People helped me out with the house, and I must say thank you to Mr Rajbal-Maharaj.”
He was referring to councillor Ramchand Rajbal-Maharaj, president of the Couva/Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce and a councillor at the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.
He has been assisting the fire victims.