Mon | Feb 18, 2019

New Year's Eve nightmare - Slipdock Rd residents still haunted by devastating blaze

Published:Monday | December 31, 2018 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson/Staff Reporter
Donovan Richards points to a section of the charred building on Slipdock Road in East Kingston that has been repaired following a fire on New Year's Day 2018.
Donovan Richards points to a section of the charred building on Slipdock Road in east Kingston that is being repaired following a fire on New Year’s Day 2018.
Keneita Samuels (left) is a picture of concern as she shows the burns that Moya Darby suffered to the face during the fire at premises on Slipdock Road on New Year’s Day 2018.
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Almost one year to the day after a fire ravaged the property they called home, killing an elderly woman and leaving dozens homeless, residents of a tenement yard on Slipdock Road in east Kingston say they will be in no hurry to go to sleep tonight.

"I can't sleep. Is one year now, and it still traumatise me. This year, even if I have to stay up until sun come up, I'm not taking any chances," said Keneita Samuels, one of several residents who had to jump from the third floor of the wood-and-concrete building to safety on January 1.

Eighty-five-year-old Corrine Morrison, who was bedridden and stranded on the second floor of the building, could not move and perished in the flames as others tried to secure their belongings from the burning premises.

In the commotion, a father threw his two children from the second floor of the burning building to safety, and they were caught by persons on the ground.

Samuels and her daughter, Amerah, were among those who fled the burning building by jumping from the third floor and who had to be hospitalised. Last Friday, Samuels said her feet still hurt despite continued medical treatment.

 

SERIOUS PAIN

 

"I damaged my back and my knees, and my daughter's back was also injured as well. Now, it is coming down to the cold time and I am feeling some serious pain. They said the ligaments in my knees are badly damaged," said Samuels, noting that her daughter's dreams of attending university had to be put on hold this year as she used her savings to take care of medical bills.

Days after the fire, the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Council ordered that the building be abandoned and destroyed as it was found to be unstable.

Last Friday, however, much of the building had been renovated and its corridors buzzing with activities. While some persons who lost their belongings have moved, several others said they had nowhere else to go.

"We still have to live here. They told us to vacate the building, and at the same time, apart from the two little beds from Food for the Poor, nobody come around here to help us," fumed Donovan Richards, owner of the house and son of the elderly woman whose charred body was pulled from the building.

"They said we must vacate the building, and apart from The Gleaner, who come around here come check on us, nobody don't come with a solution for the homeless people to stay," fumed Richards.

He said he has spent more than $1 million refurbishing several rooms in the building.

According to residents, many of the fire victims have moved from the premises, but others just don't have anywhere else to go.