Displaced residents still homeless after Washington apartment flood

May 28, 2014
Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman, right, speaks to two firefighters while supervising residents as they gather their belongings from the flooded apartment building on Jefferson Avenue May 15. - Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Several local organizations are scrambling to help nearly 40 people find new homes two weeks after they were forced out of their apartments when a leaking roof flooded their apartment building in Washington.

American Red Cross and other groups found temporary housing for the 14 families displaced when heavy rain caused flooding inside the building at 1090 Jefferson Ave. May 15, but time is running out to find permanent residences.

Jeff Fondelier, Community Action Southwest’s vice president of operations, said his agency is searching for new low-income apartments and reaching out to area landlords, but has found few options due to the booming rental market.

“It’s been a tight market for quite some time, so we’re working any partnership with any client who needs a place to stay,” Fondelier said. “Any help we can get would be great.”

The Red Cross found hotel rooms for residents during the first weekend after the flooding and the building’s property manager, Carlson Property Services Inc., paid for boarding them the following week. Community Action Southwest took over and is currently paying for hotels in Washington, Belle Vernon and South Fayette, but that will end Tuesday.

“We just don’t want to get to next Tuesday morning and still have a dozen people without a place to live,” Fondelier said.

What’s been even more problematic is the number of people with young children staying in South Fayette, meaning the Washington School District has been sending a bus up Interstate 79 to get those students.

Because the displaced residents were living in Washington at the time of the flooding, Fondelier said the organization is working to find low-income housing close to this area. Community Action Southwest’s caseworkers are involved, along with the Washington County Department of Human Services and several other organizations.

Any landlords or other organizations that want to help can call Community Action Southwest at 724-225-9550 and speak to an operator.

The 39 residents had to leave the building after water began cascading from the roof into some of their apartment units and lobby areas, making the complex uninhabitable. Firefighters allowed residents to collect belongings, but ordered them out just hours after the leak first began. Firefighters said there were numerous leaks found in the roof, causing water to pour into apartment units, open areas and electrical receptacles.

It is not known if the building will be condemned or repaired.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus