NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Dozens of people had to rush out of their New Haven apartments Thursday evening, as a routine inspection of 66 Norton Street found serious structural issues.
“We had to come back to this house, pack up all our belongings, then they had the officers banging on our doors, rushing me out of the apartment,” said resident Monique Paige.
Officers were rushing Paige and 79 people other residents out of the Norton Towers Thursday because an inspector for the New Haven Fire Department was concerned that the building was unsafe. He then called in a structural engineer.
“And everybody agreed this was a very serious situation and that people could not stay in this building and we made the decision to evacuate it,” explained New Haven Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana.
The most serious problem involved the floor of the first story bending, buckling, and threatening to collapse into the basement. Parts of the floor were held up from below by pieces of lumber. All the residents had to get out of their apartments with whatever they could pack and carry in a hurry.
Paige lives on the top floor and says her ceiling was in danger of collapsing, and that was just one issue.
“It’s unfit for anybody to raise their children or their families in,” said Paige. “There’s rats in the refrigerator. They got rats in the oven, the elevator don’t work.”
Alexandra Amador says she used to live in the basement. “It’s too dangerous,” she said. “No cleaning.”
Neighbor Jonathon Strong tells me he knows of a rodent problem in the basement. “This brick building right here I know personally houses at least 3,000 field mice under it,” said Strong.
Emergency officials made sure everyone got to a hotel Thursday night, but today Paige was told the landlord only paid for one night. She went to the housing authority to try to find more housing that is federally-subsidized under Section 8.
“Section 8 gave me a pamphlet, they told me to find an apartment, and that’s all I can do right now,” Paige said.
The building is owned by a man named Ernest Schemitsch in New York City. News8 spoke to him briefly on the phone. He said he would call back, but he did not.
Tenants trying to reach his representative in New Haven say cannot get through. The city cannot do much because all the city housing is already taken up with evacuees from Puerto Rico.