Rude Awakening: Building Evacuated Overnight

Tenants at an apartment building forced to leave due to damage caused by June 29's derecho.

By Jackie Bensen
|  Thursday, Jul 12, 2012  |  Updated 10:46 PM EDT
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Tenants at an apartment building in Riverdale Park were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night because of damage caused by last month's derecho. Most residents are being allowed to return this evening.

Jackie Bensen

Tenants at an apartment building in Riverdale Park were forced to leave their homes in the middle of the night because of damage caused by last month's derecho. Most residents are being allowed to return this evening.

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Tenants at an apartment building in Riverdale Park, Md., were forced to leave their homes just after midnight Thursday due to damage caused by June 29's derecho.

The building suffered extensive roof damage during the storms, though not as badly as the building next door, which actually had its roof ripped off.

Nearly two weeks after the storm though, residents were abruptly evacuated and were initially told they could be out of their homes until next week. However, as of Thursday night, 43 apartments were deemed inhabitable.

Another 22 are still considered unsafe, and those residents can expect a six- to 12-week renovation period.

"They knocked on the door last night about 12:30," said resident Cynthia Patrick, who had no damage to her lower-floor apartment. She's wondering why state inspectors waited so long to do anything.

"We pay rent here," said Patrick. "They're telling me I've got to go and speak to resident management; then they have to escort me back to my building, which I think is unfair. I live here. Why do I need resident management to come to escort me to where I live at?"

Others received conflicting directions.

"Obviously there were some units where the storm did a lot of damage, and they had to leave because they had to renovate those apartments," said another resident.

An inspector said when his team entered the building around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, "it was quite clear there was a dangerous situation, that in addition to the roof there was quite a lot of water that was leaking through, and leaking through the electrical outlets and through the lighting fixtures, and we felt it was not a safe place for people to be."

Roof repairs have gone into high gear; meanwhile, many residents say they'll be staying with friends or relatives. A temporary shelter has also been set up at Bladensburg High School.

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