Grenfell Tower fire: Neighbours still without hot water and gas two weeks after high-rise disaster

'How can you stay in a hotel like a box? They put three beds in one room, you couldn't even move, you couldn't pray, there was no space to eat. We are not animals, we are humans.'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson,Thomas Goulding
Monday 17 July 2017 15:32 BST
Grenfell locals adjust to life after the fire two weeks on

Residents in the homes surrounding Grenfell Tower are still without hot water and gas two weeks on from the fire that killed at least 79 people.

Hundreds of flats that overlook the site of the tragedy are still without basic amenities after the fire destroyed centralised gas and water lines under the building.

Affected residents in Hurstway, Testerton, Barandon and Grenfell Walks, part of the same estate as Grenfell Tower, have been told works to repair the lines could take another month.

While gas has been restored to most of the flats, none have hot water, according to local residents. Accommodation has been provided in nearby hotels but for many the move is too disruptive as they try to regain some semblance of normality.

Zeinab, who has four children, moved out of her block that faces the tower on the night of the fire. She said the family of six were forced to share one hotel room between them so she moved back home, despite there being no hot water or gas.

"Everybody moved out of the block but after three, four nights we came back. I didn't feel comfortable and when you have kids, how can you stay in a hotel like a box? They put three beds in one room, you couldn't even move, you couldn't pray, there was no space to eat. We're not animals, we are humans. We need our space," she said.

"It's already been two weeks and they are saying it is 10 days more for the hot water, but I think it will be more. You have to go back to work, you have to get your life restarted, my kids have to go to school - they all had exams, my son had finals, my daughters had GCSEs and A-levels."

Shower facilities have been made available for affected residents at the nearby Westway Centre. But for many residents with young children, the set-up is impossible.

Mother-of-two Fortuna has been using boiled water from the kettle to run a bath for her young sons.

But despite the inconvenience of living with no hot water, the hollowed-out shell of the tower that looms over the estate is more disturbing.

"Everything makes us worry now. Today it was them, tomorrow it could be us," she said. "We know people who were in there. Every time I look at it it reminds me."

Fatima, whose balcony looks on to Grenfell Tower, stayed with friends in the aftermath of the tragedy but moved back to the estate after five days as she did not want to be separated from the community and the ongoing search for answers.

She said many were finding it impossible to sleep in the shadow of the burned-out carcass.

"Many of us sleep during the day, we feel safe in the day. It is not a nice feeling, neighbours are saying it could be us next," she said.

Her five-year-old son, who lost his teacher Nadia Choucair in the blaze, wakes up crying for her.

Luciana, who lives on Testerton Walk, said her two young sons, who have special needs, have started screaming in the night, worried they are going to die.

"Everyone has left their luggage by the door, passports and everything, just in case. We thought we were going to die," she said.

"The children are traumatised. The playgrounds are empty."

Grenfell Legal Support founder Abbas Nawrozzadeh said it was "disgusting" that traumatised residents were still struggling to access the most basic facilities.

"They saw the most disturbing things and they can’t even access services, those are the acute issues," he said.

"The view we are getting from the ground is if it were a white middle class area, this would have been dealt with very, very quickly."

The Independent has contacted the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for comment.

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