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Aug 14, 2012 11:43 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Homeowner Hopes To Rebuild, Recover After Devastating Blaze Destroys Reservation Home

Aug 14, 2012 5:24 PM

Carefully stepping through the charred rubble of her home on Montauk Highway, Staysea Lee Hutchings noticed a book on the scorched, debris-filled floor. Picking it up, she realized it was her 10-year-old daughter’s first Bible, which had been burned only on its corners, its pages nearly untouched.

Last Tuesday, Ms. Hutchings’s home of 11 years, which sits hidden behind the smoke shops on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, was engulfed and gutted by fire. She and her daughter, Go-Gi-Sgk So-Qui-Li Dimalanta, lost everything.

After taking her daughter, who also goes by “Nunah,” to the airport, Ms. Hutchings came home to a disaster. Her friends Denise Smith-Meacham and husband Lewis Meacham, who had been staying with her, said they came home to discover the fire, which appears to have originated from an overloaded outlet in Ms. Hutchings’s bedroom. Southampton Town Fire Marshal Brian Williams said there was no indication of arson or accelerants, and that the outlet was overloaded by multi-plug adapters, or piggy-backed power strips.

Now, a week later, Ms. Hutchings, the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s former tribal enrollment director, who was instrumental in helping get the tribe federal recognition, according to Ms. Smith-Meacham, is left to clean up the mess and start over again—but not without help.

Spearheaded by her friend Ahlia Love in Philadelphia, an emergency fund, Support Our Sister (SOS), has been set up at PeoplesFestival.org and has helped to raise nearly $2,500. The Stepping Stones Smoke Shop and Dairy Mart on Montauk Highway also has been accepting clothing donations. Several area churches are coming together to provide for the two families as well, including the Shinnecock Revival Center, which raised and donated approximately $430 on Sunday, according to Tribal Council Chairwoman Dyani Brown.

Kings Chapel Church of God in Christ, on Hillcrest Avenue in Southampton, also paid for a week’s stay at the Enclave Inn for the Smith-Meachams. Ms. Hutchings is currently staying with Ms. Brown.

Ms. Hutchings said she has taken in friends and family members over the years who have needed a place to stay, and that her door has always been open. But now in need herself, she is faced with the task of finding a home for herself and Nunah.

Ms. Brown, who writes the “Agawam Notes” column for The Press, focusing on reservation life, said she set up an “SOS” Facebook group online, hoping to garner donations and support for her friend. “She’s a wonderful person who always gives so much of herself,” she said. “It’s only right that we help. She does so much for everybody else that it makes you want to help her.”

At nearly 500 members, the Facebook group has become a collection of community support and a powwow of sorts to plan the cleanup and rebuild the one-story house.

“So our first goal is to clear up what’s left—to do that we need to get a Dumpster, and then we will need volunteers with shovels, brooms, rakes, hammers, gloves and heavy duty construction bags to help fill the Dumpster,” Ms. Brown wrote this week. She said the cleanup most likely will start by Sunday, August 19, and in the meantime friends and family will be looking for an affordable demolition bulldozer team to clear the frame.

The home, built in 1922, originally belonged to the Gardner family and had seen better days. Ms. Hutchings said she had been unable to get homeowner’s insurance because of its 
poor condition. Each room in the home, except for the kitchen and living room, had only one outlet, which is why she had been using power strips.

According to Mr. Williams, the house is “totaled.” Ms. Hutchings said the firefighters told her the flames reached at least 1,000 degrees because the 
tempered glass in her oven had shattered. Most of the furniture in the 90-year-old house is unrecognizable or has been transformed into black heaps, wet from firefighters’ hoses. The new windows, doors and insulation she had just had installed through Project Warmth,
 a United Way energy emergency assistance program, have all been broken down by the flames.

But Nunah’s Bible still remains intact.

“She’ll be happy,” Ms. Hutchings said. “Now she still has it to read.”

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Such wonderful people I had the pleasure of spending time with Go-Gi-Skg shes the sweetest kid and her mother is a hard worker such a sad story !
By Crankypants (34), SOUTHAMPTON on Aug 17, 12 10:40 AM

I came across an old Dell this morning. I'm in the middle of a clean wipe of the hard drive, and setting up the new case to swap the guts into so as to accomodate the heat sink, and fan as they were missing. Will be WinXp Home when I'm done license key and all. . And I'll even set it up with Open Office, and AVG free edition for antivirus among other useful tools. However, I don't have a monitor, extra keyboard or mouse. Maybe someone has some old hardware, or a flat screen ...more
Aug 18, 12 1:37 PM appended by Mr. Z
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 18, 12 1:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good man Mr Z.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Aug 18, 12 3:17 PM
Not bad for a simple "garbage man", eh?

Aug 18, 12 3:28 PM appended by Mr. Z
BTW, that was just too irresistible not to say. BTW, I'm looking for old desktops, laptops, and other potentially recoverable hardware. $75 max reinvestment ceiling. And, NO it wouldn't be a pyramid scheme. I'll set up a warehouse if it comes to that. Does that sound like a familiar start-up plan?
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 18, 12 3:28 PM