Seniors still waiting to return to Prairie Park Apartments

MADISON (WKOW) — More than 100 seniors have been with out a home since Prairie Park Senior Apartments were forced to evacuate three weeks ago due to flooding. As of Wednesday evening, the Prairie Park Senior Apartments remain closed although, the Madison building inspector tells 27 News they could reopen as early as Thursday.

According to Kyle Bunnow, the Madison housing supervisor, the building got its complex back Wednesday afternoon, but the fire safety system including fire panels, needs a few finishing touches before the building can open again. He said that could happen as early as Thursday, but only for people who live on the first floor.

He said the building must pass certain accessibility standards so the second and third floor must remain closed until the necessary repairs take place. That could take a few more weeks.

After three weeks, Sam Amacher said he’s already waited long enough.

The night of the flash flooding across Madison, Amacher was driving home to his apartment at Prairie Park. He got caught in the water over Struck St. totaling his car.

“It’s been a real stressful financial situation,” he said.

Those same waters made their way into the Prairie Park garage, damaging the electrical system, forcing residents to evacuate days later.

“At 3:30 the cops came said, you’re out of here by 4:30. I grabbed stuff out of the freezer, refrigerator, had some friends come over, we moved out and I’ve been out since then,” Amacher said.

Bunnow said the entire system was so damaged it needed to be replaced, which was the main reason it took so long.

“Since it needed to be replaced they had to find it and since it’s not something that’s easily obtainable getting it from where it was to here was a challenge,” he said.

On top of that, contractors were busy with other projects and flooding repairs, still Bunnow said crews did what they can to make the process as quick as possible and in his experience so did the property managers, Harmony Housing and Greystone. He said there was no reason to plan for a flood, like Madison saw this August because it was an unprecedented event. That’s why he said it’s hard to know how long the recovery will take.

“I don’t know that I can tell you what normal is because this doesn’t normally happen,” he said.

Last week, Harmony Housing offered each household a $500 donation to help with the cost of evacuations and living in hotels or out of town.

“That doesn’t even pay for one week at a hotel,” Amacher said.

Amacher said he’s been paying about $650 a week for a room at a hotel and it’s been adding up. On top of that, with a second floor apartment, he’s among the dozens of residents who still don’t know how long it could take before they’re back in their homes.

Karen Marotta, the senior director of communications for Greystone & Co. said she understands her resident’s frustrations but doesn’t think there’s anymore her company can do.

“That’s hard to hear because being that Harmony Housing is a nonprofit organization our priority is the residents who live in the properties,” she said.

Amacher said he’s not satisfied with that response.

“Try living in a hotel for a month, where you don’t have anything,” he said. “That’s the problem. I have nothing. Clothes on my back basically and that’s it.”

Fed up with waiting, Amacher said he plans to hire professional movers to get his property out and find a new home.

“I never thought in my 75 years I would be treated like this,” he said.

According to an update on Prairie Park’s website, the company’s insurance will be covering, “reasonable and necessary temporary housing expenses that are above and beyond the per day rent you would have paid during the time you have been displaced.” They’re asking residents to save all receipts to submit for reimbursement.

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