By Megan Hickey and Marie Saavedra
OAK PARK, Illinois (CBS) – The clock ticked late Tuesday for dozens of people living in an Oak Park building.
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They have ordered it to be vacated immediately due to concerns that the building may collapse.
And as CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey reported, there were many occupants of the building at 930 North Blvd. near Kenilworth Avenue, says they have nowhere to go.
Residents were given only five days notice to pack all their belongings and move out. People continued to move out of the building through Tuesday night – sometimes one box at a time – while the lobby remained full of boxes and tape. A stack of extra U-Haul boxes was also set up for people to use.
Residents said they are just waiting to hear about the next steps.
“It’s completely chaotic,” said a man living in the building.
The Village of Oak Park said 930 North Blvd. is in “imminent danger of failing or collapsing.”
“Suddenly it’s so bad you have to get out of here – but they do not make you get out of here right away,” the man said. “They let you stay a few days. If it does not fall down, then you can go.
Residents were left in confusion after receiving this evacuation message Friday.
“What do you want to do? What can you do?” said resident Eddie Flowers. “Nothing.”
Flowers told Hickey he was planning to die here in his 930 North Blvd apartment.
But Friday night, he and everyone else in the building received the letter stating that a village inspector discovered sloping floors and a “visible structural repair.” He and the other occupants of the 48-unit building would therefore have to evacuate – ASAP, the letter said.
In tears, Joyce Brown, a resident of the first floor, told CBS 2: “I’ve been there for nine years in a row and they tell me I’m going out tomorrow – and I have nowhere to go.”
Brown said she has not slept since she received the letter.
“How could you sleep and think that tomorrow night you have to be gone?” she said.
And she says her call to management company, 33 Realty, to help her find a place to move, has gone unanswered.
“I have high blood pressure; it makes me very nervous, ”Brown said.
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Austine Bridgeford has lived in the building for 18 years, and was also told of the evacuation order Friday in an email.
“I had to read it twice because I could not believe it,” Bridgeford told CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra. “We have older people; we have a few disabled people – you know, and it’s not easy.
So she was set Tuesday night to spend hours kneeling deep in bubble wrap.
“Movers will be here at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning, so it does not give me much time to finish,” Bridgeford said.
The village of Oak Park told Hickey that their records show the building was not fully occupied. The village also sent CBS 2 Investigators a note dated Oct. 27 from their senior building inspector, which raised several questions to 33 Realty.
The memo said that an inspector discovered “… the floors of the dwelling unit poured about 3” -4 “. The inspector also witnessed” a major structural repair on a concrete beam. “
The village also told CBS 2 Investigators that 33 Realty is required to provide a relocation plan. Residents say they know of no official plan or financial help for their unexpected move.
“If they take us out of here, they have to either give us our money back or find a place,” one resident said.
After 38 years of living in the apartment building, he said he felt helpless.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m not a slut, but… it’s out of my hands beyond my control,” he said.
And the residents are running out of time.
“You want people to pay their rent on time?” said flowers. “Then answer when they call you.”
The village of Oak Park gave the management company until Friday to send them an updated engineering report. The company missed that deadline, and therefore the evacuation was ordered on Wednesday evening at. 23.59
“We want to prioritize making sure they’re all safe and that they all have a place to go,” said property manager James Moore of 33 Realty.
Moore said he knows there is a human strain involved in all of this. He said it was the village that did not give them enough time.
“They have asked us for a report. Unfortunately, the deadline they gave us was very fast, we would not be able to produce that information for so long,” he said, “but we are actively working to do so. . “
Even with the chaos, Bridgeford is grateful that there are people watching her safety. But the timing was something she had not expected.
“I ask the Lord to just take care of me, take care of my neighbors until we can get out of here,” she said.
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We should have more information when the real estate company’s structural stability report is complete.