NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) — Even though they’re well above ground, residents of a high-rise building were flooded out early Friday morning, and now many of them are trying to figure out their next move, now that they’re displaced.
The scene outside the Garden Spires North Building at 195 First Street in Newark gives some indication of what had gone wrong. From the 13th floor of the building down to the ground level is a long cascade of icicles, the result of a massive pipe burst.
It happened around 3:30 A.M., when most of the residents were asleep. They got a cold awakening, however, when they realized that it was raining inside all of the apartments on the southeast end of the building, and the water was flowing to all of the other apartments on each affected floor as well.
“All through the hallways, there’s water,” resident Adrienne James told PIX11 News. The two-building apartment complex is gated, with a security detail at its entrance who would not let any non-residents into the flooded building.
However, one resident sent photos of the damage to her apartment, which was well below the top flooded floor. Since water flows down, of course, her apartment was a total loss.
She described herself as homeless, and the images of her home showed why. Inches of water covered the floor, her furniture and furnishings were completely soaked, and the strength of the dripping ceiling was questionable.
Fifty-one apartments suffered damage, according to the initial report from firefighters. Instead of pumping in water to an emergency, as they usually do, they were called to the scene to stop the water from flowing.
“It was pretty scary, but we got through it,” said a girl in her teens. She, her preschool age brother and father had left the building well before sunrise in order to try and get into her school before the opening bell.
The school, at least, had what the explosive pipe burst had taken away from residents — electricity and, of course, running water.
“We can’t go on like this,” resident Tasha Cutliff said while waiting out in the predawn cold in front of the building. “I just hope they get it fixed, that’s all.”
Her neighbor described the scene in the building. “It’s as cold inside as it is out here,” Demeress Busby said from in front of the apartment complex gate in the subfreezing wind. “There’s no heat, no light, no nothing.”
Well into the day, utility crews were able to get the power back on, but even for residents who were not forced to leave, there were still problems.
“There’s no water at all,” said Shakira Jones, about the irony of the building’s situation hours after the burst pipe covered the building in water. “You can’t wash, can’t brush your teeth. I’m just going to go to relatives’ house because I have to go to work today,” Jones said. “Things still have to get done regardless.”
Newark fire officials decided that residents should shelter in place, meaning there was no evacuation. Most residents whose homes were ruined went to relatives’ and friends’ houses until they could figure out their next move.
One resident whose apartment was totaled told PIX11 News that the management of the building had promised her that they would move her and her family to another apartment that had not been damaged.
The Garden Spires’ management company did not respond to multiple calls placed by PIX11 News for comment.