The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 1, 2013

Ceiling collapse displaces residents

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Miller Ridge Apartment officials are working with the city of Clinton to remedy safety issues in the complex after the ceilings collapsed in Building 14, displacing 20 people.

The incident occurred Thursday, April 18 when water from a heavy rain leaked through a roof that had not been fully repaired. The night prior, one family moved out of the building at 2604 N. Fourth Street because their ceiling already had succumbed to the leaking water.

When emergency responders were first dispatched to the scene around 2 p.m., they ensured no one was hurt in the incident, Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown said.

The nine families that were evacuated removed their valuables from their apartments and were housed in area hotels. Under the city of Clinton housing code, people are normally given 30 days to vacate a property unless there is an immediate danger as there was in this case. When an immediate danger is present, the fire department performs an emergency evacuation.

“It was raining and people were moving things out in garbage bags. People were moving things out as quickly as they could,” Brown said.

According to Clinton Safety Director Jeff Chapman, the ceiling on the second level of the apartment building completely collapsed as did some parts of the ceiling on the lower floor. The ceiling collapse left the building with exposed insulation and wiring, prompting emergency responders to contact the gas and electric companies to have the utilities to the building disconnected.

“We had to pull the utilities because it was a dangerous situation making it unfit and unlivable,” Chapman said.

Total Emergency Services secured each apartment with a lock and the management company helped store some items.

Since the incident, seven of the nine families have been placed in other apartments in the complex. The other two are staying with family, according to city staff. All displaced tenants removed their possessions from the building.

The apartments have been completely gutted. According to BNS rental housing inspector Chris Schneider, the apartments will be examined one by one and a list will be made of what needs to be done to make them safe and livable. Once that list is complete, management will need to get permits to make the changes necessary in order to reopen the building.

“We’re trying to work with the bank and the management company to bring things up to code,” Schneider said.

City officials said they have been and will continue to work with Miller Ridge owners and management to solve issues that exist at the embattled complex.

“We aren’t interested in shutting the place down, we’re interested in people’s health and safety,” Brown said.

Miller Ridge management declined to comment on the ceiling collapse at Building 14, but property manager Shannon Cook said she is organizing a clean-up day for residents this Saturday in an effort to improve the complex.

“If we all come together we can make it a better place,” Cook said.

The complex is currently the center of a foreclosure lawsuit. Wisconsin-based Layton State Bank filed suit against Miller Ridge, LLC, and Joe Miller, owners of the apartment complex at 2604 N. Fourth St. Other defendants include the city of Clinton, Guardian Credit Union, the US government acting through the Internal Revenue Service, Aaron Malone and Dale Bott Trucking.

Layton State Bank claims the owners owe $3.5 million in mortgage payments, $382,357 in unpaid city sewer bills and housing inspection fees, and $453,903 in property taxes.