During the frigid weather at the close of 2017 and the early days of 2018, many local people experienced broken pipes, sluggish heaters and dead auto batteries.
At Elkton Senior Apartments on High Street in Elkton, a pipe in the attic that feeds the building’s sprinkler system froze and broke, causing several apartments to be damaged by the flood of water.
The event occurred on December 30 and the residents whose apartments were flooded are still in temporary housing, including some in local hotels.
It is still not known exactly when they can get back into their apartments.
Deb MacDonald, a close relative of one of the tenants at Elkton Senior Apartments, said it has been difficult to get any information as to what is happening with the repairs. She claimed no one has given the tenants even a ballpark guess as to when the repairs will be done.
“First they said two weeks,” MacDonald said, noting it is now close to a month since the flood and tenants are still displaced. She said this type of disruption to everyday routines is very difficult for the elderly residents.
Elkton Senior Apartments is operated by Ingerman, a residential development company with headquarters in New Jersey.
“We did, unfortunately, have a water line, a sprinkler line, that froze,” said Marty Josephs on Tuesday afternoon. Josephs is the president of Ingerman Management.
He said the pipe was fixed within a short period of time, but it is a complicated job to get the affected apartments back into livable shape.
“We first had to go through the insurance company,” Josephs said. “We’re on the road to beginning the repair…we’re moving it along as fast as we can.”
MacDonald said it seems strange to her that a company that builds apartment projects as a business seemingly has no construction personnel available to immediately come into the Elkton Senior Apartments to restore the damaged apartments.
“They should at least have had relationships with local contractors,” MacDonald said, adding they should also be able to front-fund the repairs and then get money from their insurance company, which is what the tenants are having to do.
Josephs said there are only a handful of units damaged in the 60-unit building.
“Some had more damage than others,” he said.
When asked how the tenants, who are low to moderate income seniors, can pay for hotel rooms for an extended period of time, Josephs said tenants were instructed to purchase renters insurance that will cover a specific amount of cost for situations such as the current flood.
As for covering the cost for the tenants’ temporary housing, Josephs said the “landlord is not obligated to do that.”
Additionally, Josephs said that tenants displaced by the flood are not being charged rent while their units are uninhabitable and that the tenants are also not liable for the utility bills. He suggested that money can go toward charges for temporary housing.
MacDonald said her relative purchased the renter’s insurance policy recommended by the apartment management and the $2,000 in coverage for temporary housing if the apartment was damaged, seemed sufficient at the time.
She said the apartment complex is for senior citizens with a limited income. Having to pay for the hotel room in advance is a challenge for her relative and for her family, causing even more stress for everyone.
MacDonald said her relative has already had to spend $1,600 of the total $2,000 they will eventually receive from the renter’s insurance policy.
Josephs said Ingerman will continue to keep displaced tenants in the loop as to what is going on with the apartment restoration project.
MacDonald noted that she once worked in a place that was flooded and things were restored within two weeks, leaving her to wonder why Elkton Senior Apartments is taking so long with the repairs.
“You can’t do this to seniors,” MacDonald said. “This is wrong on so many levels.”