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'We were given minutes to get out': Residents beyond frustrated after being evacuated from unsafe condo

Posted at 5:37 PM, Dec 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-03 23:34:18-05

WAUKESHA — Residents of the Waukesha condominium building evacuated Thursday night,after it was found to be under “an imminent threat of collapse,” are beyond frustrated.

Dozens of them are being put up at Baymont Inn and Suites in Waukesha, thanks to the Salvation Army. But the hotel rooms are only temporary.

Since many of the condo residents have nowhere else to go, the Red Cross will open a congregate living shelter for them on Saturday. They are not saying where exactly that will be yet.

“We were given minutes to get out,” said David Secor. “What do you grab in 15 minutes? What’s important in that moment? For me it was a couple of family photos, some paperwork, and some clothes for work. Now I realize, I left behind my passport, and a lot of valuables.”

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Residents getting aid from the Red Cross.

“Does this mean we’re out for good?” said Melanie Fidder. "When can we get our belongings? What does this all mean, and why did we have no idea there was a problem? It’s a lot of stress.”

While those who live at Waukesha’s Horizon West condo building thought the worst part was over, they’re realizing the real challenge is figuring out what happens now.

“I don’t have any other place to stay, that was my home,” Secor said. “Today I’ve been making phone calls to my work, my bank and insurance. Will I have to pay my mortgage and rent now?”

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The condo building.

Secor and Fidder just bought their condos at Horizon West this year and were told all the balconies needed to be redone. It was a project that was ongoing.

“They told us it would be no big deal, they were just going to replace the balconies and put new ones up, and here we are today,” Secor said. “All of our condo payments are paying for those repairs and now we’re out of a home. That is what's frustrating. We don’t know what put the building in imminent danger. Was it exacerbated by the renovations? Is it something anybody knew about before?"

The Red Cross is providing meals at their hotel and is trying to figure out the specific needs of all residents. A nurse was on hand to help make sure those who rushed out of their homes without their medications were getting the help they needed.

Many of the residents are elderly and on a fixed income.

“It just really hurt a lot of these seniors mentally and emotionally,” Secor said. “It’s a huge expense, trying to find a place to live, and all these daunting tasks. Nobody was aware of all we must do.”

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