Residents return to no water at senior apartment complex

Seniors were told problem was fixed and were taken home, only to find no water

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The issue plaguing a Hogan's Creek senior apartment complex that has been without water for weeks has been resolved. But when residents returned Tuesday afternoon, they still didn't have water.

Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors on Monday found no running water in at least 28 units at Senior Citizen Village Apartments at West Fourth and Davis streets. There were other units they could not get into.

At 5 p.m. Monday, the city issued a vacate order, and management moved residents into hotels near Jacksonville International Airport to avoid thousands of dollars in fines per day.

While in the process of fixing the problem Tuesday, workers found a faulty valve, so they turned off everyone's water in the complex to fix it. By 5 p.m., water had been restored.

For a month, the residents haven't had water to shower, flush the toilet, cook, drink or wash dishes. They were each given 20 bottles of water over the last four weeks.

City Councilman Johnny Gaffney said he's disturbed and in shock that some senior citizens living in his district have been treated like this.

"Not only did they not have water, they didn't have water for four weeks -- four weeks," Gaffney said.

When Gaffney found out, he personally called the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, which voluntarily bussed the nearly 40 elderly folks to a hotel for the night. Gaffney also called the American Red Cross, which provided free food.

"These are people's parents, grandparents, loved ones, brothers, sisters," Gaffney said. "We have a responsibility as well as the city that we have to step up and take care of the ones who can't take care of themselves."

Gaffney said a part that distributed water to the apartments malfunctioned, and he was told the part had to be sent from California. But he said management pushed the problem aside until lingering hefty fines and media coverage forced them to take action.

"We should not have to force people to do what is right," Gaffney said. "We have an ethical and financial responsibility and more obligation to do the right thing. And four weeks is just totally unacceptable."

Many residents at the complex said they have had enough.

"I have to bathe in the sink, pour water in the commode. I am sick of it. I'd rather move than go through this," said Diane Williams. "I take care of myself and I treat this apartment like it's mine. And they need to get this water going. Why bring us home? I'm not standing here like this again. I went through it enough."

Residents are also wondering if they're going to still be responsible for this month's rent. The Housing and Urban Development Department said the residents shouldn't have to pay it and can take class action if they're forced to.

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