Belmont fire victims grateful for support

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

FLASHBACK: Nicole Bennett, one of 25 people who were left homeless after a New Year’s Day fire in Belmont, speaks with Social Development Minister Donna Cox, right, on Sunday. –

NICOLE BENNETT, the mother of six and one of the 25 people who lost their homes to a fire on New Year’s Day, has praised her Belmont community for rallying around her and her family.

In an interview on Tuesday, Bennett said she has received donations from many people from Belmont and even from those outside of the area. “I could say the love from the community has kept me grounded,” she said.

The Quarry Street residents started off the new year with a blaze that destroyed four houses on Saturday morning.

The fire started when a Chinese lantern, drifting on the breeze, just after midnight, rubbed against the wooden sides of the roof of a house and caught it on fire.

Bennett said one of her neighbours has been kind enough to let her and her children stay in an empty backroom in his home. She said he has been very hospitable, and she is very grateful.

“We’re getting stuff from people all over. Thank God at least we have a roof over our heads.” She said Minister of Social Development Donna Cox visited victims on Sunday and promised to lend assistance.

“We’re going through the basics right now with different agencies trying to get documents. I can’t do it all in one day. I’m trying how many places I can go.” She said her children are not in school now, although schools reopened on Monday.

“I just went today to get uniforms for them. One is still online. One lady here helps children go online in our area. She watches over the children, and she said she will help us out.

Another one of the residents who lost her home Anastacia Grant told Newsday she, her fiancé, and their dog are bouncing around, staying at the homes of different friends.

“One night here, one night there,” she said. “That’s how I’m going for now.” She said she too has been trying to acquire new documents for the ones she lost in the fire.

She said she has received donations of clothes, and food supplies but she does not have a stove to cook. “People are trying and we’re grateful for it.” She said she still must fill out and return the documents they received from the Ministry of Social Development for assistance.