Categorized | Featured, National News

60 Homeless in Gamble Heights Fire

Emotions took off yesterday when a shanty town in the Gamble Heights community went ablaze for the second time in two days leaving more residents displaced.

The displacement of approximately 50 to 60 residents from this Gamble Heights shanty town began on Friday past when the Department of Environmental Health Services in conjunction with the Ministry of Works and the Department of Social Services carried out a demolition exercise.

Following Friday’s demolition, a fire ripped through the same community of rubble, destroying even more home structures.

Fire officials said that it took about four hours to extinguish the fire.

Then again yesterday morning, another fire erupted that led fire officials back on the scene.

Bahama Journal reporters observed displaced residents walking through the area in fury and disbelief.

One Haitian resident voiced her feelings to The Bahama Journal, lamenting that they received no notice of Friday’s demolition and cried that she and her five children had lost the little they had to survive.

According to some of the residents in the area, the shanty town consisted of both Haitian and Bahamian nationals.

One Bahamian resident who wished to remain anonymous said the government did not go about the demolition in the right way.

He described the demolition scene as looking like a bunch of rats running around scrambling to collect personal items.

He said that it was “hurtful” to see people in the home structures as they were being torn down.

This same resident told reporters that most people residing in the shanty town did not intend to squat “forever”.

He said most of them used the space temporarily as a means of getting on their feet until they could have done better.

However, this resident also revealed that he has been living in the shanty town for 17 years.

Although most of the displaced residents are claiming that they were not given notice of the demolition, one resident told The Bahama Journal that ministry officials told her that notice was given via television, but she says most residents did not own televisions or radios.

One seemingly distraught Haitian mother cried out lamentably that she has no job and has a two- and-a -half month old baby to feed and take care of with no shelter.

“It’s stress, it’s stress!” she said.

The Department of Social Services was stationed at one of the community’s churches conducting assessments on the affected residents yesterday, to offer assistance.

Andrea Seymour, a representative from the Department of Social Services was on site and said that her team had so far assessed about 20 out of about 50 to 60 individuals.

“We are assessing and assisting with emergency food assistance and shelter. We are assisting them with rent. After filling out an application form, they will go out and look for a place to stay and then give them rent assistance-first and last month’s rent.”

Although the displaced residents are receiving this offer, a few of them expressed to The Bahama Journal that it is not enough, because many of them have no money and they feel that no one would be willing to accommodate families sent under the label of social services.

There is still a question as to the owner of the property on which the shanty town was developed.

Many residents are saying that a Haitian national is claiming ownership of the property, and has collected rent from the residents on a regular basis.

However, the assertion about ownership has yet to be proven.

Police are suspecting arson in connection to the series of fires that took place on Sunday evening and Monday morning.

Investigations in to the matter are ongoing.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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