Mum and five children lose everything in flood and Christmas Eve fire

By Ashley Summerfield

When single mum-of-three, Carly Breslin, was made redundant from her job of 20 years as she went into labour with twins, she thought that things could not get any worse.

But seven months later, Carly and her five children had to be rehoused in a hotel after heavy rain flooded their flat and left the family homeless.

Carly salvaged what she could from the flood and stored their belongings in a different part of the property away from the water damage - including her children's Christmas presents.

But as the family waited to be rehoused from the two rooms of their hotel, their old flat caught fire on Christmas Eve, destroying the little they had left along with the presents.

When reliving her ordeal, the 37-year-old said: "I can't tell you how stressed I've been - too much has happened that I can't begin to make sense of it all, it's just been terrible."

Flash floods struck the family first - then a fire (Carly Breslin)

Carly and her children lived on the top floor of a new build in Islington, north London until the extreme weather turned their lives upside down.

She said: "In July, we had the flash floods and there must have been a lot of rain which was just building up on the roof.

"It started off trickling down one of the light fittings and it took about three weeks for it to be pouring out of everywhere.

"We were told by surveyors that it was unsafe to live there anymore, so the council put us in a hotel and at first I was like 'oh my god, I can't live like that, I have babies to look after' and at that time I thought even a night would be too much.

"But we've been there for six months now."

'It breaks my heart they have been through so much' said Carly's mum (Carly Breslin)

Her mum, Tracie, who set up a heartfelt GoFundMe page to help her daughter face the financial burden, said: "As you can imagine, living in hotel rooms with a 14-year-old, seven-year-old, a three-year-old, and seven-month-old twins has been very challenging."

With hopes of keeping the festive spirit alive in the run-up to Christmas, Carly was looking forward to spending the day with her family.

However, on Christmas Eve morning at around 1am a fire broke out and ripped through what was left of the family home.

As Carly recalled: "It was around 3 AM on Christmas morning when I woke up to lots of missed calls from two of my old neighbours who told me the flat was on fire and I just couldn't believe it.

"Everyone had been evacuated but we just couldn't work out what had caught alight.

"From the flooding, there was mould growing on what was left of the furniture, so we had put everything we could've saved in boxes in the kitchen and the living room, where it was safe, but that's where the fire happened.

"Because my kids still believe in Santa, I decided to hide their presents in the flat because I wanted them to be surprised and have a nice day.

"The presents had been ruined by the fire, and of the ones we managed to save, they smelt of smoke and were covered in black soot.

"My little girl said that 'Father Christmas had gone down lots of chimneys' because she could smell the smoke, so I went with that story because I didn't want to worry them."

Carly explained that she tried to make the best out of the worst situation, but is worried about how she might come across.

She said: "I was so overwhelmed at what had happened and it's so upsetting to see all your stuff ruined.

"Any other day would've been easier for me to handle, but it was Christmas and all I wanted was for them to have a nice day after going through so much upset, so making it special was quite important for me.

"I've tried to keep things away from them as much as possible and they did end up really enjoying the day, despite what happened.
"I had to go away to wipe my tears and come back pretending I was okay.

"I don't want to be seen as some sort of charity case but we did lose everything and my mum set up the fundraising page to help us rebuild the things we lost."

The family is still unsure what caused the fire and is waiting for an investigation to take place.

Most of the family-of-six's belongings were destroyed after the two devastating events (Carly Breslin)

Writing on the GoFundMe page, Tracie said: "Carly was devastated when she saw the damage to everything she owned, if it wasn’t burnt or melted it had smoke damage.

"Many have suggested to set this page up which at first we didn’t want to do but if we could at least try and get a little bit of help it would go a long way for Carly and the children.

"They have been through so much this year; they deserve a little help. So, I am asking you if you could help restore my daughter's broken heart."

"We are all so grateful for all your support at this unbearable time. All your messages have meant so much and have filled our hearts!"


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