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Housing

‘My entire life is in that house’: 100 families still locked out of homes two months after Storm Malik

It’s been eight weeks since Storm Malik rocked Trinity Tower in Glasgow and forced nearby households out of their homes. And they still have no idea when they will be allowed to return.

It’s almost two months since Keith McIvor has been inside his Glasgow home – and he and an estimated 100 other households still don’t know when they can return.

Residents of the area surrounding the A-listed Trinity building in the Park District of the city were given just 30 minutes to evacuate their home on January 29 after Storm Malik rocked the UK.

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The storm brought 100mph winds and caused power cuts across more than 130,000 homes and businesses but it also triggered movement sensors in one of the three towers at the building, signalling that it was in danger of collapse. 

The building was already undergoing structural repair but now an exclusion zone has been set up across six streets, including McIvor’s home sitting across the road from the affected tower.

Glasgow housing hit by climate change
The towers at the Trinity building have become an iconic part of the Glasgow skyline since being built in the 19th century. Image: Matito / Flickr

Residents have no idea when they will be able to return and the situation has taken its toll both mentally and financially, according to McIvor.

“We’ve been told two to three months. But it’s all very vague. We don’t understand why the council isn’t more empathetic and why they’re not being more forthright about giving us information about what’s happening,” he said.

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“I think that’s the gripe amongst tenants: the lack of information, the lack of clarity, the fact that the council’s refusing to compensate.”

The Charles Wilson-designed building was initially opened as the Free Church College in 1856 before becoming the Trinity College in 1930. The landmark building was vacated in the 1970s before being turned into housing in the Nineties.

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DJ McIvor, 54, has lived near the tower for 15 years. As well as a home, the property hosts his music studio and the music collection he has been amassing for more than 30 years.

“My entire life is in that house, my studio is in there, my entire music collection is in there. I didn’t work for two years during the pandemic because my work is playing in front of audiences,” McIvor said.

“Then things have just started to pick up and then I have no access to the tools of my trades. That means I managed to get a small amount of stuff out but not enough to really keep working. I did a lot of studio work but now I can’t.”

Glasgow City Council has set up an online page to update residents on progress with works to make the building safe once more.

In the last update posted on March 11, the local authority said council officers met with the design team on the project to discuss long-term works to stabilise the tower.

Glasgow housing hit by climate change
Keith McIvor’s home sits just yards inside the cordon. Image: Liam Geraghty

The council update said: “Following this meeting we hope that a revised and better informed timescale will be provided to affected residents.

“The designation of the tower remains that of a dangerous building and until the Council’s Building Control and Public Safety Team can be satisfied that there is no or negligible risk of collapse the exclusion zone will be required to stay in place and access to properties will continue to be restricted.”

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Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney has met with residents awaiting repairs.

“The safety of residents is of paramount importance and the council had no option other than to evacuate six weeks ago, but that does not excuse the lack of progress made since,” he said. “In situations like these, it is important that we all remember these are not just buildings, but people’s homes and the disruption the residents are facing is colossal.

“Astonishingly we are now at the stage where residents are being displaced for unspecified lengths of time while the structure apparently remains at high risk of uncontrolled collapse.”

While residents face an anxious wait to find out when they will return to their homes, they will not be the last people forced to vacate their homes due to extreme weather.

Climate change is likely to make extreme weather such as that seen in Storm Malik become more commonplace.

Extreme weather events have forced around 21.5 million displacements globally every year over the past decade, according to the UN.

Overall, 216 million people could be forced to migrate within their countries due to climate change by 2050, according to forecasts from the World Bank.

McIvor added: “It’s gonna be a huge situation in Glasgow so much of the city was built in the 19th century.

“I think it’s going to be an issue that the city is going to face exponentially over the next few years.

“As climate change gets worse more and more people are going to be in situations like this, it kind of feels like Glasgow is crumbling around us in many ways.”

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