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Daniel and Tiffany Hatfield look on as their son Darrell is playing. The Hatfields are one of several families displaced from their home at Fair Oaks apartments by flood damages. - Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

Flood forces tenants out of homes

Published 7:35am Thursday, October 7, 2010

When a family at Fair Oaks apartments lost its children’s winter clothing to recent flooding, each of the tenants banded together to buy more, according to Tiffany Hatfield. Hatfield, the manager of Fair Oaks apartments, has been displaced from her and her family’s home, along with eight other families after the flood that hit the area two weeks ago.

Three below-ground level apartments in all three of the buildings that make up the Fair Oaks complex were flooded and are in dire need of repairs. Two water heaters and a boiler were also irreparably damaged, according to Steve Nierman of DMC Plumbing.

The apartments in the 202 and 204 buildings received 1 and 1/2 inches and 3 inches of water, respectively. The 200 building, however, received 8 inches of water.

The problem with so much water in each building is the amount of sewer backup that gets into the rooms, according to Hatfield. That means families have to temporarily move out until the apartments are properly cleaned.

Power washing, replacing carpets, disinfecting and taking care of storm damage are some of the repairs being made to the 202 and 204 apartment buildings. Nierman said he had to replace a water heater in the 202 building as well. The 200 building, however, will face major repairs.

The 200 Building at Fair Oaks Apartments is undergoing repairs for flood damages incurred more than two weeks ago. - Matt Peterson/newsroom@austindailyherald.com

“The walls won’t dry out,” Nierman said. As a result, instead of running dehumidifiers and fans until the walls dry, Fair Oaks will replace the sheet rock instead, which should take about a month. While the majority of families will be back in their homes by next Friday, when work on the 202 and 204 buildings are scheduled to be done, several families, including Hatfield’s, will be out of a home for a while.

“In that first building, and with the sewer water that was in there, we have to pretty much gut it out,” Hatfield said.

Hatfield’s family is staying in a hotel for the time being. Other families weren’t so immediately lucky, which is why the Mower County Red Cross reopened a flood shelter at St. Olaf Lutheran Church for the better part of last week. From Monday to Saturday, about 10 people were sheltered there until they could find other accommodations, according to Elaine Hansen, the director of the MCRC.

Many families lost furniture, including couches, tables and beds, Hatfield said. Everyone who rented a garage from Fair Oaks lost property there, too, as 15 garage units flooded out, most with water 3 feet high. Hatfield said she lost her Christmas tree, as well as a box of her children’s baby belongings. Others lost similar things of sentimental value.

The tenants are coming together to help one another in this time of need, though. Helpful donations from the Salvation Army and the shelter and food provided by the Red Cross haven’t hurt, either. Although two families have moved from Fair Oaks to escape from dealing with the flood damage, even more people are staying. As Hatfield puts it, it’s good to see the tenants bonding over their experiences.

“I think the best thing about the flood that did happen is I got to meet each and every tenant on a personal level,” Hatfield said. “The tenants in there are such a great group. They’re going out of their way to help everybody.”


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