Residents Want Landlord to Fix Lightning Damaged Apartments

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

April 24, 2006

A lightening bolt struck an Albemarle County apartment building, sparked a fire and caused a lot of damage. That was ten days ago, and tonight Greens at Hollymead residents say they're still being forced to live in unlivable conditions.

Residents say they are living with holes in their walls, no A/C, no heat, with bugs crawling into their homes. Residents even say they are afraid to plug in appliances because they may get electrocuted.

According to resident Jackie Stevenson, lightning hit her gutter, came out a hole in the piping, and then the surge of electricity came bolting through Stevenson’s living room.

“I jumped out of my bed and I heard mommy scream,” said her daughter.

The jolt sparked a fire in the laundry room and the fire department had to knock down walls to get to it.

That was April 14, 2006 when four families were displaced. Today the landlord declined to comment on camera but says the apartments are livable.

“We were told that these apartments are livable now, no heat, no A/C and plenty of bugs,” said Lamonte Tyler, whose apartment was also damaged.

The landlord offered them housing for five nights, but last Wednesday even before the power was turned on she told them to move back in.

“These wires are out. The wires are out in the living room. My daughter pulls the panel back and walks in and out, who's to say who’s not doing that when I'm not here to see it,” said Stevenson.

Jackie's husband put up plastic to block the holes and keep the elements and unwanted visitors out.

She's afraid to plug in the appliances or have her kids plug in their toys.

“My DVD player blew up in my face the day after she told me my home was inhabitable. What makes my home inhabitable?” wonders Stevenson.

Jackie doesn't have renter’s insurance but thinks it’s her landlord's responsibility to do more.

“We don't understand why we can't be given some place safe to stay. This isn't safe,” said Stevenson.

The landlord said if they want to find some place else to live, she's happy to let Jackie and Lamonte out of their leases. She also said she plans on having everything repaired by Friday.

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