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James Bay residents impacted by fire hoping for help with days left in temporary accommodations

One man said he doesn’t know what he’ll do on Tuesday when Red Cross aid ends
Jason Rempel outside his apartment complex that was damaged by a fire on Oct. 25. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)

Displaced residents of a James Bay apartment building damaged by a recent fire are hoping for help since their temporary shelter is about to run out.

The Red Cross provided accommodation at hotels around the city after the Oct. 25 fire, but that assistance will come to an end on Nov. 2.

Jason Rempel, a resident of the building, was nervous about the Tuesday end date as of Saturday.

“There’s just so much uncertainty right now as far as finding some shelter, whether it’s just temporary or a long-term solution,” he told Black Press Media.

He was told the Red Cross is normally able to provide a longer temporary shelter option, but that isn’t available due to the pandemic. Rempel and about 14 others are in need of help, he said.

“I’m so grateful and fortunate for the help that we’ve received, but it’s only been offered for a very short term,” he said.

Village Green Apartments said Saturday that the building won’t be able to house any residents for six to 12 months as the fire restoration work occurs.

Rempel said there was a scheduled fire alarm on the day of the incident, so by the time residents realized it was real they had to rush out with only the clothes they were wearing.

“There was a building manager that ran in clearly in a panic and was banging on doors, yelling for everyone to get out,” Rempel said. The residents then waited outside in the rain before a transit bus eventually arrived to provide them shelter from the elements.

“We were all very lucky to escape for one, but it was a very challenging day for sure,” Rempel said.

READ: One dead as a result of morning James Bay fire

He said residents weren’t able to enter the building for several days before finally being allowed to go gather some essentials from their units on Friday.

Rempel is hoping the public will help him and the other residents find any sort of short-term accommodations for when the Red Cross aid runs out.

He’s also been trying to help his downstairs neighbour, a 71-year-old woman who has no family connections in Canada, through the process.

“My main concerns are for her right now so I’ve been trying to do what I can her find a home,” he said, adding that others impacted are also seniors and those living with disabilities.

Rempel’s sister started a GoFundMe for him, while another resident started a separate GoFundMe for all of the building’s displaced occupants.

Rempel said the public can also help out by dropping off moving bins at the building complex, which is at the corner of Croft and Niagara streets.

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