Liberty Apartments residents finally return home after Sandy
Liberty Apartments reopened Wednesday afternoon nearly two months after closing when Hurricane Sandy hit.
Hundreds of other homes and businesses throughout the resort remain uninhabitable. But at 62 units, Liberty Apartments was the largest multi-unit dwelling in the city that construction officials deemed unable to be occupied due to fire hazard issues.
Exposure to salt water left the building’s fire pump useless, city documents show.
Because the huge, expensive devices are custom-made and thus take a while to procure, the building’s owner ordered a temporary pump.
That arrived last week. Set-up, testing and inspections did not conclude until Wednesday afternoon. Immediately thereafter, construction official Wally Shields deemed the building safe.
At that point, he also had received confirmation from building management that 24-hour security personnel would check hourly on the temporary pump. That’s necessary because the pump is set up outside, Shields said Wednesday.
The permanent pump should arrive in a month or so. The building’s 97 residents won’t have to leave again during that installation process, Shields said.
As in other areas of New Jersey, money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development covered costs for residents to stay in nearby hotels and motels while they were waiting to return home. The recent round of funding runs out Dec. 27, but could be renewed for another two weeks if warranted, officials have said.
Resident John Williams said he and a few other tenants returned to Liberty Apartments find some of their belongings missing and suspect their apartments were burglarized. They intend to file police reports, he said.
He also has concerns about how safe it is to be there due to strong, strange odors and what appears to be mold in some areas.
Representatives from the city’s Department of Licensing and Inspections did not return calls seeking comment on the matter, which Williams said is being handled by code enforcement within that department.
Contact Emily Previti:
Follow Emily Previti on Twitter @emily_previti