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Apartment residents in limbo after Hurricane Ida damaged complex, managers flip-flop on eviction

“It’s crazy to me how they put us out first and then they tell us we can come back in here, but then they said they were going to cut the water off..."

HAMMOND, La. — There are more questions than answers over what is happening at an apartment complex and a nearby subdivision in Hammond. 

Residents at both the Terrace Apartments and Ridge Estates were told they had 15 days to vacate because of damage from Ida, but now they are being told they can stay. Nevertheless, many say they are still concerned. 

At the Terrace Apartment complex, damage from Hurricane Ida is just about everywhere you look. The first building you see as you enter the complex has the roof off, parts of it sit in the parking lot and on top of the destroyed car. To make matters worse, trash is everywhere, all the dumpsters filled to the brim. Residents say there has been no effort by the staff to clean any of the mess up and they feel abandoned. 

“It’s almost like a third-world country,” said resident Regina Cole. “But we are in the United States.”

People living here tell us they received eviction notices after Ida. Management cited storm damage, but then some people received another notice saying they did not have to leave. 

A letter given to WWL-TV’s Paul Dudley by a resident said management consulted with Louisiana Housing Corporation and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation on alternatives to terminating the lease as they repair the apartment and that the letter cancels the notice of termination of lease previously sent. 

“It’s crazy to me how they put us out first and then they tell us we can come back in here, but then they said they were going to cut the water off and people were going to come collect their stuff,” said a resident named Brianna.

“Do you have water and power?" asked WWLTV’s Paul Dudley. 

“Yeah, right now, but they say they were cutting it off Friday," Brianna said.

But not everyone got the notice that they could stay.

“Everything was pretty much a total loss,” Cole said. 

“So, you are one of the residents that’s still having to leave?" Dudley asked.

“Yes. Definitely. Yes. I am,” Cole replied. 

What’s that like?" Dudley asked. 

“Horrible,” Cole said.

Residents say it’s a double-edge sword. Many don’t have the money to move but also can’t live in substandard conditions.

“Don’t make these people leave their home,” said resident Jessie Abbott. “Make it livable where it’s suitable for kids to run around on the floor and not have to worry about bugs or mold growing, that’s all we are asking for.” 

The Terrace Complex is owned by Rich Smith management. They also operate the Ridge Estates subdivision where all residents were also told they were being evicted and then told they could stay. Conita Nichols says there was mold in her mom’s house. They told her it was unlivable, but then said later it was livable. 

“What I really want right now is for Ridge Estates, whoever the owner, is to compensate my mother,” Nichols said. 

Repeated calls to management were not returned. The offices closed Tuesday. 

New Orleans area attorney Ken Barnes, who is not connected to any of the residents or management says legally if property is a total loss due to no fault of the owner, like a storm, the owner can go to court to get the lease dissolved, but if it’s partially damaged then the owner is responsible for making the repairs.

We reached out to Louisiana Housing Corporation and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Corporation for comment. Neither returned our calls.