Trying To Re-Build A Month After Devastating Fire In Port Hope

In Community, Local

It’s been a month since a devastating fire ravaged a Wellington Street apartment building.
Since the fire, displaced residents have tried to get their lives back in order the best they can.
The fire started in the third floor of the building and spread rapidly through the roof.
Everyone in the building made it out safely and a number of pets were rescued.
Unfortunately, some were lost in the fire.
Most people effected by the fire had no content insurance.
During the fire, Dawn Dowle turtle and rabbit were brought out by firefighters from her basement apartment, but tragically two of her cats were thought to have died from the fire.
Through three weeks of frustration residents were allowed to go back in to salvage what they could on June 5.
“We had to do mask fit training and we went in with big white jumpsuits,” said Dowle.
When she walked into her apartment although there was no fire damage, “it looked like a scene from a horror movie.”
“Dark, damp, the smell was incredible because it had been boarded up since the fire.”
“All I cared about was my grandma’s jewellery box and my grandma’s picture.”
While in the apartment Dowle was trying to think of where her cats might hide.
“So I started going through my kitchen cupboards. I opened up my cupboards above my fridge and she came flying out at us.”
Her cat, Onxy had been in the pitch black of the apartment for approximately three weeks.
Dowle believes her cat survived eating Cheerios after clawing open a cereal box.
But Onxy had different plans in the hallway as the cat bolted from her boyfriend who chased the cat down, but got scratched up in the process.
It took him three days to actually catch her through the help of the Northumberland Humane Society who placed traps.
A neighbour who lives beside the burned building found her other cat on June 8 when it walked up to her.
“Jewels walked right up to her and whined, and the neighbour knew it was my cat,” said Dowle.
Dowle has been living in the Comfort Inn with her boyfriend and some of her pets.
Her three children are staying with their father until such time a permanent residence can be found.
“Housing is scarce at this point. There is already a housing crisis and now there is 23 more families looking for new places to go,” said a clearly frustrated Dowle.
Dowle said she hasn’t received any funds from a fundraiser that was held by her neighbour just days after the fire in which thousands of dollars was donated.
The organizer of the concert in Memorial Park wanted the funds divided up between the residents, but the Salvation Army said they don’t hand out cash. They pay for items directly.
But Dowle said the Salvation Army is “picking and choosing” where the money goes.
“They’ll dispense the money on how they see fit based on everybody’s needs, but that’s not what the fundraiser was for.”
As of June 15, Dowle said she is no further ahead then was she was just days after the fire but does state the Salvation Army is paying for two thirds of her room.
“They want us to pay rent we would have been paying at the building and then they’ll cover the rest given the rate they were given from here.”
The amenities in the room make it hard to stock up on food for more than a day or two.
“My fridge is small and I have to purchase food every day or every other day or eat out. There is money I have to put out every day. Then to try and save up for first and last all over again. It’s difficult.”
The entire time she has received a $100 gift card and has a roof over her head – for now.
Even if she goes to the Northumberland Food For All warehouse in the hotel she only has a small microwave to cook.
“I don’t have a stove, so going to the food bank is not feasible at this time.”
“I need to get out of here.”
After talking to other tenants and knowing what was in her room, Dowle says that there were items stolen.
“Not just from my unit, but from multiple units.”
“My unit had a safe missing that had a little bit of cash in it. There was a replica hand gun (pellet gun). Neighbour had their children’s electronic’s taken.”
As of June 18, Dowle, her boyfriend and some of her pets are still residing at the Comfort Inn in Port Hope.

Dowle updated Today’s Northumberland the Salvation Army called on Monday, June 18, 2018 stating they are giving out $300 to each family to start.  The options were Walmart, Giant Tiger or Independent.  Dowle was told the cards could take up to over a week to receive as they have to order them specifically.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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