Home for New Year! - Arson-hit Portland family to get reprieve from rain
Since his home was ravaged by fire more than a year ago, 63-year-old Devon Montague has slept virtually with one eye nervously open, with the sky as the roof for his family. Sometimes, on cold and rainy nights, they were soaked to the bone.
But Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony for a new home in Anchovy has offered a silver lining in rain clouds he once viewed with trepidation.
Montague, who not only lost his house in November 2018 as a result of arson, is thrilled at the prospect of singing ‘home, sweet home’ in another two months.
“Mi glad fi di help as it was rough to sleep in different places every night,” said Montague.
“Very soon, me and di fambily can enjoy our own space indoors. No more sleeping on the floor or having to wonder when it a go rain,” he added, offering thanks to Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie and the Portland Municipal Corporation.
The family of five, including an 11-year-old, had been forced to sleep on the floors and corridors of banks and other business places in Port Antonio.
Drop in the bucket
The Government has overshot its target in building 27 such houses – seven more than initially planned – for emergency-needs cases, said McKenzie, who also has oversight for community development. St Elizabeth and Westmoreland have been earmarked for an additional four houses, with groundbreaking ceremonies projected by March 31, the end of the financial year.
“This is just a drop in the bucket when you consider the needs that are there. But all it takes is one step at a time, one step at a time. I know the demands out there are great,” McKenzie said.
The total spend on McKenzie’s house, as well as for another unit in the Long Road area, has been tagged at $4.6 million.
The new units will be retrofitted with beds, electrical appliances, stoves, and furniture.
Portland Eastern Member of Parliament Ann-Marie Vaz, who, earlier, had given a commitment to the family to offer them help, lauded McKenzie for the quick response to Montague’s dire circumstances.
“A home represents more than a shelter. Home is where the heart is,” said Vaz.
“It is the place that you feel most comfortable. I am so happy that another two people are off the homeless list.”