DIEPPE, N.B. – Four days after a devastating fire in Dieppe that left 49 people homeless, many residents are still struggling to get their lives back to normal.
Eddine Goufi was making dinner in his second-floor apartment with a friend, when he heard the fire alarm go off Sunday.
Before leaving, he grabbed his passport, immigration papers and computer.
“I have no status without my papers,” Goufi told Global News. “I told my friend to get his papers too.”
Story continues below
Goufi, an immigrant from Algeria, had been a tenant of the building since he arrived in Canada two years ago. He said his entire life was in that apartment and he doesn’t have any family in the country.
Tuesday afternoon, firefighters allowed him to return to his apartment for 15 minutes to gather personal belongings. Almost everything was destroyed by smoke and water.
“My clothes were black. All my electronic stuff, we can forget about it. Really, when I entered my house, I was crying,” he said.
And Goufi didn’t have insurance.
“I don’t have words. I don’t know what’s going to happen now,” he said.
The confusion around insurance is common for tenants according to Stephen Olmstead, manager of Government Relations for the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“It’s an on-going assumption,” he said. “When I was renting, I never thought about insurance. No landlord I ever rented from told me about it. I never asked about it. I just assumed.”
In fact, the Red Cross said of the 46 tenants who registered for help from them after the fire in Dieppe, only nine of them indicated they had tenant’s insurance.
Olmstead said tenant’s insurance is relatively cheap compared to homeowner’s insurance.
“There’s a range of costs, so you might be able to find something as low as $30 a month, something like that,” he said.
“If you rent your apartment, tenant’s insurance is available to help you replace your belongings after loss to theft, fire or water damage,” he said.”Your package will outline if there’s support for hotel stays or other things while you’re getting resettled.”
He cautioned that there might be a deductible or exclusions of coverage and that these details should be discussed with an insurance broker.
As for Goufi, the Red Cross has agreed to cover the cost of his hotel until Saturday. The organization also gave him some money to buy some new clothes. He said he was also grateful to his employer who gave him three days off and a cheque to cover some emergency expenses.