WEST ORANGE, NJ (CBSNewYork) – Homeless in the blink of an eye.
Dozens of West Orange residents were evicted from their homes on Monday around midnight and are now living in a hotel.
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This is all due to the damage to the buildings, but that damage was caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida a few weeks ago.
At a meeting Thursday, tenants learned that the building, where some have lived for decades, will have to be demolished.
The tenants walked away from the meeting with some cash, including their security deposits, October rent, and some money to move out, but without many answers to their questions.
Watch Lisa Rozner’s report –
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, people living in the Northfield Avenue apartment complex said Hurricane Ida sent a tree into a building on September 1, evacuating four families and triggering a landslide that totaled cars. . But other than that, we told the other 40 units that everything was fine. In fact, the owner has just repainted new parking spaces.
But six weeks after the storm last Monday around midnight, residents were told they had 15 to 30 minutes to get out, possibly forever.
âIt’s very traumatic,â Charity Bracey said. “We live in limbo.”
Bracey and others live in hotel rooms.
âIt was tough, tough on the kids, tough on everyone,â said tenant Arnold Castro.
Castro and his wife have three children aged 12, 9 and 5.
âOn Monday night, they knocked on our door and they practically tore us from our house, didn’t they? They were traumatized, âhe said.
âIt went well, but, you know, obviously there’s no place like home then,â said another tenant.
It turns out that on Friday, October 8, the engineering company Langan informed the city that “the slope … is not stable” and that part of the foundation of the building is not safe, which could result ” possible loss of life â.
Rozner asked the mayor why it wasn’t until three days later that everyone was evacuated.
“I know it was a Friday night, and I don’t think our engineer caught him right away, and so as soon as he grabbed him, we started talking and spent the day mobilizing the various professionals of the city “, declared the mayor of Orange-Ouest, Robert Parisi.
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âI think the management dropped the ball,â said Gwenda Williams.
Rozner called owner John Jackimowicz to ask why six weeks after Hurricane Ida residents have only now learned about this. Shortly after Rozner asked this:
“Are they going to be able to move everything out of their apartments?”
Jackimowicz just said “we have a plan”, and he can’t speak anymore because he has a lawyer, and he hung up.
âWe don’t live here without rent. We’re paying to live here and we need help, okay? End Olsen said. âSome of us are disabled. Some of us are old. Some residents depend on oxygen tanks to survive. What’s going to happen?”
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported on Thursday night, the mayor and several city officials met with residents to try and help them with the next steps.
“We are very sorry to see you all in this circumstance,” said Mayor Robert Parisi.
Jackimowicz, however, was a no-show. Instead, he sent his lawyer, and it didn’t go well.
âI think it’s ridiculous. I think it’s a shame that he didn’t show up and his rep wasn’t ready to answer a lot of our questions and was very evasive, and I think that’s wrong, and that he should have been here. At least to show us and give us the respect we deserve, âsaid tenant Enid Olsen.
Owner’s attorney, Steve Eisenstein, told CBS2 that Jackimowicz doesn’t live in New Jersey but wouldn’t say where he lives, adding: “It’s a very unfriendly crowd.”
âYou can understand why some people are upset, though. They feel like they haven’t received any communication from him since this happened, âLayton said.
âI disagree. We communicated through the building super. We are doing everything we can reasonably do under the circumstances, which are completely unexpected,â Eisenstein said.
It is not clear when the demolition will take place, but tenants are assured that they will be able to empty their apartments, including their furniture, before it happens.
If you want to help the locals, you can donate to a non-profit fund managed by the mayor. To do this, CLICK HERE.
Parisi says the money to house them in hotels will run out in a week, but promises no one will be left homeless.
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Jessica Layton of CBS2 contributed to this report.