'Everything is left behind': Waukesha condo residents in disbelief after evacuating their homes
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Dozens of people are left displaced and dismayed after they were forced to evacuate their homes Thursday night on a stretch of North West Avenue.
City officials said the Horizon West Condominium Building, which is located at 315 North West Avenue, was found to be unfit for human occupancy. On Thursday, Dec. 2, they ordered evacuations of that building and the homes on either side of the building.
Families had just minutes to grab whatever they could and get out of their homes. Now, they are battling their insurance companies and crossing their fingers that they will be allowed back inside.
"They said you gotta be out of here by 7, and so I was in freak-out mode," said Sherrie Weber, who has lived in the condo building for 24 years.
She described a frantic scene as she and her neighbors dashed around their homes, stuffing things into suitcases.
"I grabbed some pictures and some clothes, and 15 minutes was up," said David Secor, who moved into the building earlier this year.
Weber and Secor are among about 45 people temporarily staying at the Baymont Inn. Other families are staying at a different hotel or with friends and family.
"We're definitely covering them for toiletries and we're working with them for replacement prescriptions. We're bringing three meals a day," said Justin Kern, communications director for the American Red Cross of Wisconsin.
Help from the American Red Cross is much appreciated, but the residents' worries are growing for the necessities they left behind.
"I have a prosthetic leg, so I'm missing some of my parts. They're in a drawer," Weber said. "I packed as much as I could, and we threw things in suitcases, but everything is left behind."
Weber and Secor said each unit recently had to pay between $12,000 and $14,000 to have their balconies removed and get a new elevator.
"Everybody in the building has worked hard to pay all of those extra fees to make sure this building is good," she said.
So this is just all too much for them and their neighbors.
"We're talking about a community that is pretty close-knit and still kind of reeling from a tragedy just a couple of weeks ago," Kern said.
But the residents we spoke with aren't thinking of themselves. They're thinking about their neighbors who are elderly or have young children.
"It's gotta get taken care of. People need a home," Secor said. "That's really the bottom line: People need a safe place to live, and we don't have that right now."
Kern said an estimated 80 people total have been displaced. The organization is working to find potential long-term housing solutions. He said it's still to early to tell what donations would be needed.