'Individual stories' from London's deadly Grenfell Tower fire 'bring me to tears' - Joy Reid

I remember watching the pictures of Grenfell Tower burning and going to sleep (in NZ) thinking, "surely they'll get everyone out - I mean this is London right?"

I woke up the next day and to my horror I saw Emma Keeling, the Europe Correspondent at the time still reporting and by that stage, it was clear not everyone had survived.

I felt sick.

Then we saw the horrific pictures of family members putting up photos, frantically visiting hospitals and trying to find some trace of their loved one.

It was a day of reflection, but there are still many unanswered questions remaining. Source: 1 NEWS

Seventy-two perished, each one leaving behind a heartbroken family. The individual stories bring me to tears!

In June 2017, 70 people died when the residential tower caught on fire. Source: Breakfast

Three generations of families who died, the firefighter who had to choose between saving a mother and her baby or a five-year-old child, the mother whose baby died in her arms as she descended the smoke-filled stairs, the husband who lost hold of his wife's hand in the hallway and never saw her again and the father who was away in Egypt and rushed back, buying chocolates in duty free for his daughters only to find they’d died.

There are 72 of these horrific stories and as a human you can't help but stare at Grenfell Tower - a tomb now wrapped in plastic - and wonder how this could possibly have happened.

What's emerged over the 365 days has been one outrage to the next.

An inquiry has heard of the safety failures which allowed the fire to burn out of control, the non-compliant combustible cladding, the substandard fire doors, the lack of fire safety systems, the mixed advice which meant people stayed in their homes instead of evacuating.

Then to add insult to injury, the survivors have been let down by authorities. A year on, more than half of those displaced still don’t have a permanent home. Some families are still living in kitchen-less hotel rooms.

An inquiry has started which the bereaved and the survivors hope will bring much-needed answers.  The police are still investigating possible criminal action and the fight for truth and justice is ongoing. 

The pain is still so raw. You could see it on the faces of those marking the anniversary at the base of the tower today. Tears flowed freely. People travelled hours to be there, such is the level of heartache throughout the country, not just in North Kensington.

The latest estimate is that 11,000 people are suffering some kind of post-traumatic stress, prompting the largest mental health response of its kind in Europe.

And could it happen again?  The UK has an estimated two billion dollar bill to fix more than 300 buildings which are at risk, although the combustible cladding has not yet been banned.

The fall out continues and as anniversaries often do, the raw emotion has today resurfaced.

It feels a lot like the emotion felt on the first anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake where there was so much grief mixed with so many unanswered questions about why buildings had failed so catastrophically.

They say time heals. I hope that's true. The bereaved and the survivors need peace and those that died need to rest in peace. But with so many unanswered questions it feels like that peace is still a fair way off.

A picture of Grenfell Tower on the first anniversary of the deadly fire. Source: 1 NEWS

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