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Tenants begin to look ahead after fire at their building

·2 min read
Pavan Kumer Vemulapalli said it was tough to find an apartment so quickly. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)
Pavan Kumer Vemulapalli said it was tough to find an apartment so quickly. (Laura Meader/CBC - image credit)

It's been a stressful week for tenants who lost homes due to smoke and water damage at an apartment building in Charlottetown.

Many are clearing out their last belongings this weekend. Some said they are staying with friends, others have rented new spots, and some are still looking.

Many of the people who lived in building were students or people in P.E.I. on work permits, trying to accumulate hours to qualify for permanent residency.

Pavan Kumer Vemulapalli, 30, works at a local fast-food restaurant. He had just moved in about a month ago.

"It's tough to get an apartment," he said.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Vemulapalli and his roommates did end up finding one nearby, but had to pay about $500 more for the monthly rent.

Worried about paperwork inside

He said many were worried about losing important paperwork during the fire.

"They are panicking, you know, the passports, the work permits, the study permits, all the certificates are inside, and … if something happened with that, it's a long process," he said.

Vemulapalli was able to retrieve all his papers, although they were a bit soggy.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

He said he's grateful to firefighters and the Red Cross who provided support to tenants for several days after the fire.

"This is the first time this has happened in my life," he said.

'I was shocked'

Gurpreet Singh was at work when the fire broke, but his friend sent photos to his phone.

"I was shocked watching that this is our apartment," he said.

Singh and many other tenants did not have insurance for their belongings.

"Our luggage, our clothing … food, mattresses," he said.

"From now onwards I will take care of tenant insurance. You never know when it happens."

He said it was horrible at first but he was also grateful for the support from Red Cross.

"They are helping people on large scale," he said.

He said a good friend is also helping him with extra expenses associated with renting a truck and moving.

"It's all state of mind," he said. If you panic, things get worse," he said.

He hopes that other tenants in the building will be able to restart their lives again soon.

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