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Community rally around fire family

A Tills Hill family remains unsure of the future after fire claimed almost everything they owned but mother of three Andrene Bean said she will never forget the generosity of strangers and friends alike.

Employers, neighbours and businesses have joined in outpouring of assistance.

“It really wakes me up,” Ms Bean said. “We wouldn’t have had anything. Bermudians stick together in a crisis situation. I know we are all struggling. But to see people come together like that wow.”

The family now know an electrical fault started Thursday’s blaze that consumed their home off Court Street. With their insurance policy not updated after the house’s renovations, the Beans had feared being left homeless.

Instead, insurers Freisenbruch-Myer gave emergency accommodation at Rosemont Guest House. Ms Bean’s employer, the Bermuda Hospitals Board, has placed the family in a unit at former resort Horizons, starting today. CableVision supplied ten bags of groceries. Shekinah Worship Centre sent food vouchers.

A hair salon cleaned her daughters’ hair for free, the Jamaican Grill gave them meals, and Endsmeet Animal Hospital treated their dog, Avery, at no charge after it was rescued from the burning house.

“I can’t forget the police officers who took us to Gibbons Company and paid for new clothes out of their own pockets,” Ms Bean added. “Hundreds of dollars. It was amazing.”

Allanna, 16, attends the Berkeley Institute, and Tiffany, ten, goes to Victor Scott Primary. They have uniforms and shoes courtesy of their schools, and letters of support from their classmates.

Two-year-old girl Maya keeps saying “Mama, our house is burned”, Ms Bean said, and for the older girls, picking through the aftermath was a sombre task.

“It was like waking up in another world,” said Allanna, of visiting the torched home. “I couldn’t recognise my own room. I didn’t cry. I shed enough tears that first day when I found out.”

Informed at the Berkeley Institute’s school office that her home was ablaze, she said she only broke down when she started to tell her friends.

Tiffany, meanwhile, learned through online pictures of the fire that her home was gone.

“She cried her heart out,” Ms Bean said.

The charred home yielded a few personal effects a few albums, she said, and their passports. Incredibly, a fish survived in its bowl, through heat intense enough to partially melt a refrigerator and crack the roof. The downstairs apartment of mother Pansy Matthie has extensive water and smoke damage, and when the family will be able to return home is anyone’s guess.

But Allanna has assistance from her dance teacher, Ms Manders, plus school group Chain Reaction and the cheerleading team. Tiffany returns to school today with new clothes from Victor Scott. Maya’s preschool, Heritage Nursery, sent clothes and diapers.

“I used to wonder what was special about Bermuda,” Allanna said. “I really feel it’s like one big family. It’s made me think a little more about what I have and how material things aren’t important. I was always aware in a way, but this experience was an eye opener.”

Still dazed by the experience, Ms Bean said: “I’m not sure” when asked what they would do next.

“We’ll be all right. We just take it one day at a time,” she added. The family urgently needs a computer for the children to do their homework, and their new living arrangements have yet to be negotiated.

Big-hearted radio personality Miss Thang, aka Kristy Burgess, has rallied donations to help the family rebuild their lives. To help out, send to HSBC account number 010-758381-012.

Just days after losing all of their possessions in a house fire, Andrene Bean and her daughters have taken shelter at the Rosemont Guest House in Pembroke. Here, Ms Bean holds two-year-old Mya, as Alanna, 16 and Tiffany, ten, look on.

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Published March 05, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated March 05, 2012 at 9:12 am)

Community rally around fire family

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