Family needs help after trailer fire
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 4, 2005
By KEVIN CHIRI
LUTCHER – Jermaine Lewis Sr. is a young man who learned early on a work ethic that he has carried his whole life.
“I started working with my grandfather in the concrete business when I was a kid. So I’ve just stuck with that ever since,” the 31-year-old Lutcher resident said.
Lewis has never expected anyone to help him get the things he wanted in his life, knowing that he had to work to achieve anything. It is something he has done in his concrete and carpentry business ever since.
So maybe that is why his latest challenge in life puts him in such an uncomfortable position, as his wife and three children were just about to move into their first home ever that they could call their own, but lost virtually all of their possessions in a trailer fire two weeks ago.
Lewis and his wife Delacy, along with 11-year-old Dayna, 8-year-old Jermaine Jr., and 2-year-old Jabari, were getting ready to buy a HUD home in Lutcher, giving them their first real home ever. And even though that deal still is going through, they will be moving into a house that is stripped to the walls.
Two weeks ago, the trailer they were living in was completely burned, leaving them with almost nothing of value to set up their new home with.
“We’re on shaky ground right now,” Lewis said. “We had to move in with my mom until we get our house ready. But even when we move in our house, we don’t have a washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove, furnitureŠalmost no clothes. We lost almost everything in the fire.”
Alicia De Silvey, a local real estate agent for Century 21, who was helping them buy the house in Lutcher, said she is trying to get some help for the family.
“This couple is such a nice family,” she said. “You can see they have worked so hard to finally get their house, and it’s heartbreaking to see what has happened to them. Hopefully they can get some help for their house.”
The fire occurred about two weeks ago when kids in the neighborhood saw flames coming from the air conditioning unit late in the afternoon. Fortunately, no one was in the trailer at the time.
“I got a call from my sister that the trailer was on fire,” Lewis recalled. “By the time I got there the fire department was trying to put it out. I kept trying to go in and get some of our stuff, but the fire was too bad and they kept holding me out.”
Lewis said the family lost about 75 percent of their clothes, including all school uniforms.
“My wife had just done much of the laundry, so it was in the front of the trailer where the fire was. So almost all our clothes are gone,” he added.
Additionally, all living room furniture, their TV, DVD, children’s PlayStation, and all kitchen appliances are gone.
“A lot of people are saying I’m being strong about this, but I don’t really feel strong,” Lewis said. “It just always seems like something is pulling us down every time we try to get somewhere.”
Lewis said the family had no insurance on the trailer since it was an old one given to him by his grandfather.
“The Red Cross gave us a little help, but mostly we have nothing left but the few clothes we are wearing, and a few others,” he said.
A relative put on a benefit luncheon to raise a little money last week, but otherwise Lewis is just trying to start over.
“We only had enough money to buy this house and nothing extra,” he said. “And it took a long time to get to this place. We tried to get a house last year but we had family problems, along with the money situation and couldn’t do it. We just have to start from scratch now.”
Anyone wishing to help the family can call Lewis’ mother Barbara Jackson at 869-8858, or call Lewis at 504-638-6062. Checks can be mailed to the family at P.O. Box 593, Lutcher, La., 70071.