Tuesday, July 30 2013
PAULINE RUDDER, a 29-year-old mother of six was yesterday thanking God that all her children, whose ages range from 15 months to nine years are alive and that her parents and older siblings were unharmed after a fire of unknown origin gutted their homes on Sunday night.
In all, 13 persons were left homeless after the fire which started at midnight destroyed the houses located at the end of Cemetery Road next to the Roodal cemetery and a short distance from the San Fernando dump. The three houses were located very close to each other in an enclosed area.
The homeless have been identified as Pauline Rudder, her husband Pradeep Ganace, 32, children Kimberly Jackson, nine, Faith Ganace, eight, Hope Ganace, seven, Rebecca Ganace, six, Riffany Ganace, five, and Miguel Ganace who is 15 months old. Pauline’s parents Neville Rudder, 59, his wife Paulette Rudder, 61, and her (Pauline) three brothers Joshua 30, Paul 28, and Neville Jnr 27, are the others also left homeless.
As Rudder recalled the frightening details which left her and her extended family homeless, she said her seven-year-old daughter Faith was the one who awakened her telling, “Mommy, something happening, the place smoky.” Rudder told Newsday she began to feel the heat and heard crackling sounds of the flames. She ran across to her father’s house to alert him, then told him to check on her brothers through the compound. By this time her husband was awake and she grabbed the baby as they rushed out of the burning house. Moments later, her husband ran back to their house to pull out a fridge and TV. Rudder said although the Fire Services responded quickly the houses were already destroyed.
Rudder said the incident had left her shaken but she remained thankful that her family members were all alive. “The children were really frightened and started to bawl and freak out. I was worried about my brothers. I was wondering if they were in the house because our mother is in Tobago. She went to help my sister who is due to have a baby soon. Everything gone but thank God my children and other relatives are safe,” Rudder said.
Her father Neville Rudder, a carpenter who works with the San Fernando City Corporation, (SFCC) said when he heard his daughter’s screams, he grabbed his car keys and cellphone and ran out of the house in a short pants.
Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glen Ramadharsingh visited the affected families yesterday morning to offer assistance. The Minister told reporters he was there because of the number of children involved. “I want to say I am principally here because of the children. Six children have been affected, 13 persons homeless in all. But certainly the children are our primary concern. We will ensure we get some food, clothing and temporary shelter for the victims,” Ramadharsingh said.
Accompanying the Minister yesterday were officials from the emergency and disaster division of the SFCC, as well as National Social Development Programme (NSPD).
Ramadharsingh admitted he was unable to source financial assistance to rebuild the homes because of land ownership issues. He explained when affected persons own the land they are living on, it is easier on the part of government agencies to assist.
He did promise though to work with the Land Settlements Agency and the Housing Development Corporation to see if they can assist. The Minister presented Emergency Food Cards, a hamper and clothes to the fire victims. The cause of the blaze has not yet been ascertained and investigations are continuing.