For Miguel Alves, it doesn’t feel like it was a year ago that a fire gutted his London home and reduced much of it to ashes — it feels a lot longer than that.
Time has passed at a painfully slow pace for the 50-year-old chauffeur, who moved to London from Portugal. And he isn’t looking forward to Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people and left a community homeless and heartbroken.
“That year it was so emotional all year round, but now is the worst time, because we have to remember everything,” Alves told CNN in a temporary flat, where he lives with his wife, son and daughter.
“In one year, there’s been such a lot of things to deal with. It looks like two or three years.”
Time is supposed to heal wounds, but for many Grenfell survivors and victims’ relatives, the anniversary is a reminder of just how little has been put right over the past year.
Alves knows he is one of the luckier ones. He and his wife were returning home from dinner in the early hours of June 14 last year, and as they pushed number 13 in the elevator to get to their apartment, someone else ran in as the doors were closing and pushed the button for the fourth floor.
It was there, low down in the 24-story building, that the fire had broken out, and it was during that quick stop that Alves and his wife saw and smelled the early signs of the blaze.
Alves raced upstairs to get his daughter out of bed, and knocked on his neighbors’ doors to warn them.