Sewage backup, carbon monoxide leaks force residents to leave ap - KMOV.com

Sewage backup, carbon monoxide leaks force residents to leave apartment complex

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

(KMOV) -- With just days before Christmas, Beverly Fox was told she had to find another place to stay. Her apartment in the Sunswept Apartments, near Florissant in St. Louis County, wasn't safe to stay in overnight.

"They said that I needed to vacate the premises because the hot water tanks were shut down, they had turned off the water. They found mold in the units. They found carbon monoxide going on in units. It's horrible over here," said Fox.

Since obtaining warrants on December 2nd, St. Louis County has conducted inspections of units in the apartment complex. Today, inspectors found raw sewage backing up in a common laundry room in one building. Residents were living upstairs.

In another building, inspectors discovered improperly installed furnaces and water heaters. The carbon monoxide levels in some apartments forced the county to give evacuation notices to the residents.

"It is a life and death matter. There was a gentleman today, where we were doing an inspection and he didn't know there was a carbon monoxide leak in his apartment. He told us he's been suffering from headaches for two weeks," said Robert Rinck, an officer with the Problem Property Unit in St. Louis County.

"He is lucky to be alive," added Rinck.

The conditions found today highlight an on-going problems at the Sunswept Apartments said Rinck. The county, earlier this year, tried to work with management to bring the apartments up to code. After returning to check on the inspections, the county found that managment didn't make improvements.

"Management has been uncooperative. At one point, management directed the inspectors and us to get off the property unless we had a search warrant," said Rinck.

By December 2nd, the county secured warrants and began inspecting each unit. There are nearly 400 units in all. If inspectors find problems that cause endanger the health and safety of residents, those residents are told to leave.

It's a tough pill to swallow for residents asked to find another place to stay - just before Christmas.

Resident, Shon Hayes said, "I'm hurt. I'm just devestated right now."

Hayes and another resident said they pay $625 in rent for two bedroom apartment units.

Another resident told News 4, by phone, that management offered to put her up in a motel for the night.

Other residents told News 4 they planned to stay with family. A resource officer from St. Louis County was also on the scene to try and arrange for temporary housing for residents that were displaced, suddenly.

News 4's Diana Zoga attempted to talk to management at the apartment complex. A woman in the leasing office would only say, "no comment".

St. Louis County plans to continue inspections until all the units are checked and management brings the units up to code.

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