Alpha Towers apartment residents begin to return home after floo - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Alpha Towers apartment residents begin to return home after flooding

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There are new details in the massive apartment complex evacuation in Toledo after a sprinkler break caused flooding.

More than half of the residents have been allowed to return home as of Wednesday evening.

The break happened late Monday on the eighth floor of Alpha Towers on East Woodruff sending water all the way down to the lobby.

The management of Alpha Towers says the indoor sprinkler system has been fixed and tested.  Of the 165 apartments, people who live in the west half of the building were allowed to return home Tuesday night.  The attorney representing the apartment management says they hope the people who live in the other half of the building will be able to return Friday at the latest.

The apartment management is waiting for the O.K. from the fire marshal and city building inspectors.

"I feel like I'm homeless," says Kathy Smith who lives in Alpha Towers.

After the sprinkler break on Monday forced nearly 200 residents, many of them senior citizens, out of their apartments, Smith spent a night sleeping on a cot at a Red Cross Shelter.  The next night she spent at a hotel.

"I've been crying for three days because I can't get back into my apartment," says Smith.

"My insulin is locked up in my apartment right now," says Paul Luther who isn't yet being allowed to return to his apartment a few doors down from Smith.

"I don't feel safe," says Donetta Hayes. "If one half of the building is messed up, the other half is messed up."

Hayes was actually able to return to her apartment late Tuesday night, but as electrical and clean-up crews continued repairs on Wednesday, she is scared to go back.

"I had a nightmare last night just thinking the building went up in flames and the sprinklers didn't go off," says Hayes. "I don't want to be there."

Earlier this year, the Fair Housing Center of Toledo filed complaints against Alpha Towers with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging unsafe living conditions.  The allegations are bed bugs and only one working elevator when some residents rely on wheelchairs to get around.

HUD gives federal dollars to the building's management company, the Donaldson Group, to offer subsidized housing.

Milton Pommeranz, the attorney for the Donaldson Group, calls the allegations "unfounded."

Pommeranz says there are two elevators in the nine-story building.

This summer the company started an upgrade project which required workers to shut one elevator down at a time for repairs.

Plus, Pommeranz says every bed bug reported has been treated.  He says management brings exterminators in once a week all year long.

"You have a few vocal tenants who are never happy," says Pommeranz.  "None of those who have complained in the media have ever complained to management about a bed bug issue."

HUD officials do not want to comment on the allegations against Alpha Towers because it is an ongoing investigation that is expected to be complete within the next 30 days.

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