Hundreds of Sabal Chase tenants forced to vacate - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Hundreds of Sabal Chase tenants forced to vacate

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People living in 144 first floor units at Sabal Chase Apartments in Fort Pierce have 48 hours to vacate.

The property management company spokesperson said the city has deemed the units unsafe. Sabal Chase endured massive flooding while Hurricane Irma's feeder bands pounded Fort Pierce this weekend.

Many residents prepared for the storm by putting sandbags up against their doors and sliding doors but said water was seeping in from the walls and underneath the foundations of the apartments. 

"The carpet is still saturated with water," said Rita de Jesus, a tenant at Sabal Chase.

It's only a matter of time before mold sets into those first-floor units with carpets still drenched. People said they prepared for the storm but never expected major flooding.

"We had 30 sandbags covering this door, 30 sandbags covering my sliding door. The water did not come through our doors, the waters came from the walls, the foundation," said de Jesus.

A notice was put up on every building to notify first-floor residents they have 48 hours to leave. 

"48 hours to get out and no money, nothing. The only thing I got is my little bit of stuff I had," said Kimber Spears. 

The county has opened up Percy Peek Gym on Avenue D for people who have to evacuate. Transportation to and from the shelter is being provided by Fort Pierce Police. 

De Jesus said she is disabled and still recuperating from a stroke. She said she has kids with asthma and autism. When her apartment began to flood, her neighbor upstairs took her kids in. 

"He's doing for me what I can't do for my kids right now and me as a parent I feel impotent," she said.

She and other residents with disabilities said they feel hopeless. They know they have to leave, but fear if they go to a shelter without their belongings they will lose everything. 

"I would like to put my stuff in storage, but I can't do that cause I need money to get it there," said Carol Ruschmeier who said she is living on a fixed income.

Ruschmeier said she spent all of her spare money on supplies to get ready for the storm.

"Just paying our rent, our bills, and food stamps, that's it. And now, it's like the end. It's just crazy, you can't cut people off like that, just cutting us off," she added. 

A spokesperson for Greystone & Co. Inc. which manages the property owned by Harmony Housing, a nonprofit organization, released this statement:

"Harmony Housing’s mission is to provide safe, clean affordable housing for residents, and our first priority is to ensure the immediate comfort for those affected by displacement. To that end, Harmony Housing, in conjunction with Greystone Property Management, will expedite the return of security deposits and prorated September rent to these residents. In addition, Harmony Housing will provide $500 in cash assistance to displaced residents to help with recovery from this disaster."

The spokesperson said there is currently a process being put in place for residents to pick up their security deposits and prorated rent along with available cash assistance at the complex office. Once more information is available it will be updated. 


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