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Lack of justice and answers for Grenfell Tower fire victims, survivors and their families
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MIDWEST CITY, Okla. -- It has been incredibly difficult to write about Grenfell Tower fire.The sadness, helplessness and sorrow felt along with the shocking and disturbing images seen were reminiscent of the emotions felt and images seen on 9/11.Soon after details of the fire emerged anger was evident among the range of emotions and soon came to the forefront of them.There are still so many unanswered questions and many incidents for which no one has been held accountable.

Questions started to emerge even as the fire was in full force.Why was this 24 storey block of flats on fire? Building like these are often designed to contain a fire to a particular section or flat. How did the fire spread so quickly?Within 15 minutes the fire had spread to most buildings by  travelling up the building and had trapped hundreds of people on various levels.The answer given was the cladding on the side of the building which acted as a chimney insulating the fire and carrying it up the side of the building at an alarming rate.

Grenfell Tower was an old 1970s building used for social housing (section 8) as well by private landlords and low income families.However, the building was surrounded by luxurious flats bought by the wealthy who sought to move into the area, and one of the reasons listed for the installation of cladding was to make the building more aesthetically pleasing to surrounding areas.In total, an 8.7 million pound refurbishment was carried out on the Grenfell Tower for which the government sought the most cost effective price.As a result a cheaper, more flammable aluminum cladding (costing 2.6 million pounds) was installed instead of a more fire resistant zinc cladding.

Throughout the refurbishment residents complained of dangerous and shoddy workmanship, accusing the builders of cutting corners but their complaints fell on deaf ears, and despite the expensive renovation the interior of the building was not updated to include sprinklers (a 200,000 pound additional cost) or a fire escape.Some survivors reported only being able to hear fire alarms in the hallway whereas others reported not being able to hear them at all.

Standard fire procedure instructed those in flats to stay put and put a towel by the door in the case of a fire as fires are usually contained to one flat or location.It was this advice that led to many victims becoming trapped, and some of the survivors being those who ignored the advice.This standard procedure has been said to be good advice in normal circumstances, but has been criticised by mayor of London Sadiq Khan as bad advice.In addition fire trucks had issues accessing the tower due to the narrow roads that surrounded it and the cars parked on them delaying rescue efforts.Residents had repeatedly complained and warned that shutting down a previous existing car park to make way for development would result in a restricted roads to the tower hindering emergency services and had been ignored.

The aftermath of the fire has been equally as tragic with very few people being held responsible for the events of the fire and very few resignations.The conservative government has been heavily criticised for various reasons, from Prime Minister Theresa May initially refusing to meet with the victims of the fire to a video emerging of the now Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson telling Labour MPs to get stuffed when criticised for risking safety with fire cuts.Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has blamed the Tory party for the fire stating that the cuts have led to fewer inspectors, stating that when cuts are made we all pay the price in public safety.There is confusion as to whether cladding passed British safety tests before the incident, but over 600 buildings with similar cladding have been re-tested and hundreds have failed.No-body has been held accountable for the sub-par materials or evidently flawed safety tests.

Rehousing has been a major issue with many of now homeless victims being housed outside of London due to overcrowding leaving Kensington for the wealthy owners of the surrounding areas.Rehousing outside of London could prove devastating for many families who would have to start the search for new jobs and schools, and has added weight to the claims of gentrification, although it must be noted that 68 flats have been bought near luxury flats to permanently rehouse victims.There has been no help given for residents who bought their own flats, and even if their insurance does pay out they wouldnt be able to afford anything similar within the area.

Police have recently revealed that 350 people lived in the towers and 255 escaped.Leaving 80 presumed dead and 14 not at home when the fire started.However, there have been various claims that the severity of the fire and lives lost have been played down in order to prevent riots and escape cover up negligence. Local resident nadia, also known as DJ Isla, stated that aid is being sent in vain  were packing boxes, were sending food to who? Theyve died.She goes on to add [Ive met] no victims, none of the people I grew up with, I cant find any of them, where are they?.Getting an accurate death toll has been further complicated by the number of undocumented immigrants in the building and visitors.Theresa May initially said undocumented immigrants could come forward without fear of immigration checks only to be contradicted by ministers who stated they could be deported after 12 months.

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Alicea Walley

Alicea Walley is a work-at-home mom of one with a degree of English Law and Spanish...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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