Fisherwoman and family left homeless after fire
Still struggling to improve her family’s dire financial and housing situation, Norris Samuels, the lone fisherwoman on the New Forum Fishing Beach in Portmore, St Catherine, now has to deal with another tragedy.
A fire of unknown origin at the fishing beach in the early hours of Sunday has left her and her two children without a place to lay their heads. They have no food, no clothes and a damaged boat engine that will severely hamper her ability to head out to sea to catch fish, which she would then sell to take care of her offspring. Samuels, a single mother, was featured in THE STAR in 2016. She told how she toiled for 20 hours a day to take care of her family. She now has an extra burden as she and 11 other owners lost their shops in yesterday’s fire. But while the others have established places of residence elsewhere, the mother of two had to make the small wooden structure she erected on the beach her home and place of business, because she could not afford to rent elsewhere. The fishing beach is owned by the Urban Development Corporation.
“I was sleeping when I jumped up and I hear fire, fire, I look at my phone and it was about two o’clock, the only thing mi could do is wake mi son and run out, by the time mi come out the whole place was on fire,” she told THE STAR. “Mi lose everything, all the clothes we have, the little food all gone, nothing nuh save right now. We homeless and nuh have no food. Mi boat engine bun up too. I don’t know where to turn.”
Evadney Hall, who operated a small grocery shop on the fishing beach, said she has lost all her stock and $6,000 that was left in the shop.
“I have no way of bouncing back. Mi get the call and when mi reach here, the fire was raging and the fireman dem a try to put it out. But everything was gone, dem couldn’t save nothing,” she said. Blossom Paige, who operated a restaurant and bar, said her loss stands at approximately $3.5 million. She told THE STAR that looting that took place at her business place during the fire accounted for the disappearance of all her liquor and the vandalising of the gaming boxes which were broken into. She said that an undetermined sum of money was stolen from them.
Jamaica Fire Brigade Officer for St Catherine Norman Purrier said when they got the call, two units, one from Waterford and the other from Spanish Town, responded but the wooden structures were already engulfed.
“We have launched our investigations to determine the cause of the fire. At the same time we have not been able to come up with an estimate of the damage,” he said.