‘This is their home’: School prepares to help children displaced by highrise fire
Published Tuesday, September 4, 2018 4:35PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, September 4, 2018 8:02PM EDT
Uniforms, backpacks and free lunches are waiting for children of families displaced by the Parliament Street highrise fire two weeks ago.
About 1,500 residents of 650 Parliament Street were evacuated from their homes on Aug. 21 after an electrical box in the basement caught fire. According to the property managers, it could take up to six months before tenants from the south tower of the building are able to return home.
Tenants living in the north tower may be able to reenter their apartment units by Thanksgiving.
Most of the residents are now living with family or friends, but some are still searching for temporary housing.
Loreta Manlutac and her three children have already moved twice. They were originally staying with an employer, but decided to stay with friends so that her kids could walk to school.
“It’s very hard for us, especially the school time,” Manlutac told CTV News Toronto. “I am scared if they take the subway every day.”
Manlutac’s youngest son is going to school for the first time on Tuesday and will be walking to school every day with his two older brothers.
About 60 families displaced by the highrise fire have children attending Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. The principal of the school has promised to provide the children with emotional support while they adjust to their new living conditions.
“It’s always an exciting day, full of energy, getting teachers in the right place, getting kids all in the right place, but this year is a little different,” Ryan Peterson said. “Specifically we are going to do our best to support the families with uniforms, clothing, (and) social, emotional support. Our social work team will be here this week to address any kind of needs that students may have.”
Uniforms have been collected by principals of other Catholic schools and backpacks were donated by Costco. Lunches for the first week of school will be provided by Loblaw’s.
“From 8:30 to 3 o’clock and onwards, this is their home,” Peterson said. “We will take care of them as best we can.”
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Scott Lightfoot