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COLLEGE PARK, GA (CBS46) An unexpected moving day created stress and confusion at the West Cove Apartments in College Park.
More than 70 families were told they had just 48 hours to move out with all of their belongings.
The lights and water have been shut off by the City of College Park. Many residents used their cell phones as flashlights to move out late Friday night, the moving deadline.
“They told us the water would be taken care of, that College Park was supposed to be coming out here Wednesday,” said resident Kisha Williams. “When they did come out here, we were served with that notice to evacuate in 48 hours…I have three kids, so to just like to kind of uproot them and move it’s been really tough.”
On the phone Friday, DiDi Bell, the regional property manager told CBS46 that a burst pipe sent sewage into an adjacent creek last Wednesday sending water issues into a downward spiral. The apartments were fined by the College Park Codes Department and the Environmental Protection Agency stepped in.
“Because the leak was ongoing for a few days the judge issued an abatement order and told us we had 48 hours to vacate the property,” Bell said. “It’s no one really at fault because the lines are old. So, that’s what caused the leak, it was a crack in the pipe,” she went on.
But, residents gave CBS46 several notices from the city showing the apartments have had ongoing water service and payment issues over the last several months. Many residents are angry this eviction comes right after they paid rent.
“Y’all already knew this was about to happen and y’all still took our rent money,” said Samiroe Ford who was moving out with her three children Friday afternoon, unsure where she would be going.
Bell says the apartment managers have been reaching out to several community partners to get residents into temporary housing hotels. She says, ”it’s a collective effort and everybody’s trying to step in and help where they can. We are going to make sure everybody is taken care of.”
Williams though is still not pleased with the short notice, and says this is not the first time tenants had to vacate because of water sanitation issues.
“We get notices every month when the rent is due. We get them through email. So, I feel like this should have been handled better than this,” Williams told CBS46.
Bell says the City of College Park is not actively assisting with relocating the displaced residents. An email to the city’s communications department was not returned Friday evening.
ATA Properties, which manages West Cove, sent CBS46 the following statement:
"Our property in College Park, GA experienced a sewage leak from a broken pipe under the lift station into the creek behind the property. Due the environmental hazard the City of College Park Code Enforcement and the EPA placed the property into abatement and a judge issued a 48 hour notice to vacate. We are doing everything in our power to accommodate people and have spent well over $30,000 to provide displaced residents with hotels while we relocate them."