University City has condemned nearly two dozen apartments that were damaged when flash flooding swept through the area last month.
Several residents have been displaced since being forced to evacuate on July 22 when heavy rain caused the nearby River Des Peres to rapidly crest in the 1200 block of Westover Court and the 8000 block of Hafner Court. It’s unclear if those residents will be returning to their apartments.
There was at least one foot of standing water in the first-floor apartments of the Westover Court complex. The city condemned eight of those apartments, as well as 12 apartments in the Hafner Court complex, according to Clifford Cross, the director of planning and development for University City.
Even though the city put bright orange stickers on doors labeling those units condemned, Cross said he expects that nearly all of the residents who have been displaced will be able to return to their apartments.
“We’ve already been working with the owners (of the apartment complex), who seem to be very responsive,” he said. “A restoration company has already gone in, cut out drywall, pulled up the floors and is drying the units. They’ll be painting and putting in new floors, and residents will be able to go back soon.”
Cross said the restoration company projected a two-week turnaround, which would mean residents could potentially begin returning to their apartments sometime this week.
But Terence Van Horn, who lived in one of the first-floor apartments in the Westover Court complex, said he’s been told that all tenants who lived in the downstairs units at Westover Court were forced to permanently vacate their units.
“I will not be able to return and was told that the lease was canceled due to the apartment being condemned, and that we needed to move by July 1. All lower-level tenants were told the same as I was told, so all of the lower-level apartments are vacant,” he said. “I worked from my home (apartment) and I lost everything.”
Van Horn said the American Red Cross offered $125 to the tenants who were taken to the community center when they were first evacuated, but that has obviously not been sufficient in trying to move forward and find another place to live.
He said Hafner Court Apartments, LLC, which owns both of the complexes, has not offered help to tenants whose units were destroyed by the flood.
“I am homeless because of their neglect to recommend their tenants purchase flood insurance, and their neglect to provide housing assistance to the lower-level tenants who were forced to evacuate their residences due to the flood,” he said.
Van Horn said his repeated attempts to reach the manager of the apartment complex, who he identified from his leasing documents as Mindy King, have failed.
When the West End Word contacted Hafner Court Apartments, LLC, King identified herself when she answered the phone, but refused to comment and abruptly hung up.