Living in shambles ... Fire victim hopes to rise again

March 23, 2017
To enter her house, Joy Forbes has to walk gingerly up a flight a stairs and then jump on to the top of a nearby concrete roof before making her way to her door.
Further confirmation that the housing stock in Denham Town, West Kingston, is in need of repairs.

May 6, 2013, is a day Joy Forbes will never forget.

The Denham Town, West Kingston resident, recalls being in a homely environment at 8 ¼ Wellington Street before her world turned upside down.

"We were much comfortable on that side but we burn out. We had two bedrooms over there. We went out on the Saturday and got a call that 8 ¼ is on fire. This is home now so I try to make it as comfortable as possible.”

Forbes, along with her family of four, share an old multifamily structure with five other families. The house, however, like many in Denham Town, is in need of repairs. To keep it standing, occupants regularly uses pieces of board and metal as reinforcement. 

To enter her unit, which is situated upstairs, Forbes has to walk gingerly up a flight a stairs and then jump onto the top of a nearby concrete roof before making her way to her door. She risk falling through the steps if she abandons the option of hopping on to the roof. 

“Oh God, probably if the little breath never in deh it blow down long time. You know say a breath hold up place,” Forbes said.

The Denham Town resident recalls contributing to the National Housing Trust during her time at Wellington Street. She had plans to build a concrete unit at that location but those had to be put on ice because of the fire.


Forbes said that she has been struggling to get back on solid ground for the past four years but indicates she has no intention to give up the fight to better her circumstance.

“I sell a little coal, a little rice, a little flour — anything at all I can put my hands on. I have two carts weh make a little change a week time too,” she added.

According to Forbes, she once operated a cookshop but violence caused her to shut down that business.

And as she seeks to get back on her feet, Forbes fully understands the danger the old wooden structure poses, especially if there should be another fire.

“This would be gone in no time. Is just one room was burning over where I used to live and the whole structure burn down so quickly," she said.

But even though the memories of the Wellington Street fire are etched in her mind, Forbes is determined she will rise again. She told THE STAR that she would welcome assistance in getting a better place to call home even as she hopes the authorities would see it fit to give the house in which she now lives a new lease on life.







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