Dubai: A South African expat living in the UAE for 22 years has lost every personal and memorable item she owned in last month’s fire at three Jebel Ali warehouses.
Chantelle Baupre, 46, said her heart was pounding when she witnessed the horrific warehouse fire from her apartment in Al Furjan residential community on July 21. Little did she imagine her cherished belongings were up in smoke at the time. From photo albums, gold and diamond jewellery, her wedding dress, Baupre lost everything she owned in a matter of hours and she had no control over it.
Baupre said: “I was in South Africa for four months to attend my brother’s wedding on March 5 in Cape Town. The borders closed ten days later and I could not return to the UAE. In the meantime, my apartment lease expired and I was due to move out end of May. Since I was stuck in South Africa, my daughter and her friends helped pack my possessions into boxes. On June 24, the packers shifted them to the Jebel Ali warehouse. I returned to UAE the same day and left my items in the storage until such time I could move out of the unit and find a new place for myself. I was in the process of finalising a new place when the fire gutted my belongings. I lost everything in a matter of hours. All I have now is my suitcase from the Cape Town wedding.
“Literally, my entire house was in storage at the warehouse. From my twins’ baby albums with pictures of their first haircut or the hospital wrist bands they were given when they were born, my gold and diamond jewellery, old computers with hard drive back ups, my wedding dress, my grandmother’s 100-year-old tea service — all are gone,” a tearful Baupre told Gulf News.
Turn back the clock
Baupre said: “I saw 22 years of life which I built with sweat and toil go up in smoke. This taught me to take nothing for granted. Minimalistic living is key. But also insuring yourself against any untoward circumstances is more critical. ”
Take a personal contents insurance out
“Yes! Take a personal contents insurance out as you never know what the future holds. Never take for granted that anyone else will look after your items in the way you will. And make sure if your items have to go into storage that you have specific insurance.”
Baupre said the warehouse has insurance. “From the interactions with the insurance firm, it will be months before I can get any compensation. In a time like this where COVID-19 has put a strain on most of our finances, I am having to deal with a bigger loss.”
Baupre said going forward, when she moves to a new apartment and buys new stuff, she will make sure to take a home contents insurance.