Mother left scrambling after ceiling in apartment collapses

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Jatara Gray had to scramble to find a place for her and her children to sleep Monday night after the ceiling of her apartment collapsed. She started the long process of starting over Tuesday.

"She's the best mom," says 7-year-old Queen Dale of her mother, Jatara Gray.

But today is hard, even for the best mom.

"When I opened the door, my ceiling was caved in. There was water leaking everywhere," says Gray.

The home she had spent the last two-and-a-half years building for her children is suddenly falling apart.

"The most hurtful thing you could ever, ever go through in your life is to tell your kids, 'I don't know where we're going to stay tonight. I don’t know what we’re gonna do. I don’t have any clue,'" says Gray, holding back tears.

The owner of the property declined to speak on camera. He does not know the source of the problem, but is looking into it. He hopes to have repairs completed in the next three days. In the meantime, he says the apartment is habitable.

A low income tenant, she doesn't have spare change for a lengthy hotel stay. A neighbor took the family of three in Monday night. But Tuesday night and onward is full of unknowns and questions.

"I feel like it's the end of the world right now," says Gray, crying. "I was just going to school, getting on my feet. And this happens."

The stench of burnt chemicals and mildew wafts from the apartment. A couch, only a year old -- destroyed. Linens, pillows, clothes, burned after falling on the heater in the frenzy to salvage anything. Children missing school.

"We lost our carpet, our furniture," says Gray's 11-year-old son, Nysair Gray, crying. "We can't go to sleep."

Despite all the other struggles, Gray has one big fear.

"I'm scared they're going to charge me, or they're going to find a way to say it's my fault, and they're going to make me pay. And it's going to be something I can't pay. I'm here for a reason. I'm low income," says Gray.

To neighbors, this is just one in a series of incidents.

"My ceiling leaked about three times, and then they come in and they 'fix' it. And then if it leaks again, they constantly tell me that they don't know where the problem (is) at," says neighbor Kierra Booker.

The family has reached out for help, but, as of now, their prayers remain unanswered.

"Now we have to live at other people's houses," says Queen Dale.