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Once there's life, there's hope - Slipdock Road residents trying to pick up pieces after New Year's Day fire

Published:Thursday | January 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Residents examine some of the clothing donated to them after the New Year's Day fire that gutted their home on Slipdock Road in east Kingston.
These women have made their selection from the boxes of clothing.
A group of youngsters look on as Keneita Samuels examines the scars Moya Darby received on her face as a result of the fire.
Fire victim Shavan Hamilton relaxes on his bike. What else to do?

Since a massive fire destroyed practically everything they owned on New Year's Day, residents of 1 Slipdock Road in east Kingston have had to make various sleeping arrangements for themselves, and with the Easter term scheduled to start in just a few days, roughly 20 children are without school uniforms or supplies.

However, help should come their way soon.

While many Jamaicans were on their way home from a party or some other event in the wee hours of New Year's morning, residents had to be running and jumping through windows out of their three-storey dwelling as fire took control.

Eighty-five-year-old Corrine Morrison, who was bedridden, did not make it out.

When The Gleaner revisited the community yesterday, many of the survivors, some of whom were badly injured, were in the community conversing and reminiscing on the catastrophe.

Survivor Keneita Samuels told The Gleaner that the event marked the worst New Year's Day she had ever experienced.




She revealed that following the ordeal, she was instructed by authorities not to stay inside the building because of the possible hazard that the burnt-out structure posed, but she argued that some of her things like her bed were still in good condition and still on the inside.

"Mi actually sleep upstairs same way. Mi bed never affected. A just di damage weh me and mi daughter get when we a come out," she said, while pointing to her bandaged knee.

"CDA (Child Protection and Family Services Agency) say we must come in at 10 o'clock today fi counselling, and they said we must take bags because they are going to give the affected children stuff they need to go back to school."

'I'm just grateful for life'

Shantell Ewan, who, along with her three children, was not at home during the fire that razed their home on Slipdock Road in east Kingston, said that she was grateful that they were elsewhere. She also said that she was thankful for the assistance she has been receiving from various good Samaritans.

It is believed that the fire started in her room.

"They said the fire started in my room. Suh today, we would be dead people. I don't cherish vanity. We can always get back those stuff, so I am just grateful for life. We've been getting some help so far from Food For The Poor. They said that if we have land, they are going to give us house, and some other people said they are going to give us beds. People come day by day with bags of clothes. Yesterday, a van came and gave us a big box with food. If I get all the stuff and the help that I need, then sure, my five-year-old daughter will go back to school on Monday. My three-year-old will start school in September," She said.

Gloria Brown, 62, said that she has had to be sleeping at a nearby church.

"Mi nuh comfortable, but tru mi nuh have nowhere else fi stay, di church people help mi, but mi nuh comfortable."

Rollen Nelson said that he also has had to be sleeping inside his burnt-out home and elsewhere.

"Mi girl give me a blanket. Three nights, and a three different place mi sleep," he said.

One little girl, who said that she was in serious pain, had bruises on her face, which were sustained while her family tried to rescue her from the burning building. She was released from the Bustamante Hospital for Children yesterday morning.

Her mother, Janelle Guscott, who is nine months' pregnant, also had to be rescued.

Despite going through such an ordeal, the residents still gave the impression that there was hope and that all was not lost.