Home Life and Arts Students displaced after apartment complex deemed unlivable

Students displaced after apartment complex deemed unlivable

Photo by:      Preslie Cox | Multimedia EditorThe cleanup and repairs were in process May 27 for residents affected by flooding at the Lodge at Southwest.
Photo by:
                                                                 Preslie Cox | Multimedia Editor                      
The cleanup and repairs were in process May 27 for residents affected by flooding at the Lodge at Southwest.

As heavy rainfall tore through San Marcos May 24, floodwaters made their way into many first-floor apartments in student living complexes around the city.

Three Texas State students living at The Lodge at Southwest experienced the damaging waters firsthand when their three-bedroom apartment was determined to be unlivable due to water damage.

Julianna Di Napoli, criminal justice senior, said the apartment was damaged extensively by the flood.

“Everything is pretty ruined,” Di Napoli said. “They ripped out all of the flooring and I imagine most of the appliances and walls are ruined because of how soft they are all the way up to the top.”

Katie Thompson, criminal justice law enforcement senior, was alone in the apartment on the night of the flood. She said a friend called her at 1 a.m. to warn her of the impending danger.

“One of my friends had called me before the water really started to rise because his fiancé has family in Wimberley, and he told me that I needed to get out right then—while I still could,” Thompson said. “So my mom and I went over to my friend’s house and we pretty much stayed up the whole night trying to get information.”

Emilie Clark, business management senior, said she learned her apartment had flooded after watching the local news.

“I was actually out of town and my family and I were watching the news because my aunt lives in Wimberley and she was worried about her house,” Clark said. “While we were watching the news they actually pointed to my apartment complex and said that anyone living there needed to evacuate immediately.”

Thompson said she measured water as high as 14 inches in their patio closet.

“There were branches up on the building that went up twenty feet,” Thompson said. “We don’t really know how those got there, and we really have no idea how high the water really got.”

Di Napoli said even after learning water had made it into her apartment, she underestimated the extent of the damage.

“When I came back into town, I genuinely didn’t think it would be as bad as it was,” Di Napoli said. “The views from my apartment complex of the damage are just crazy with the Blanco River still flowing over the road in some places.”

Thompson said she was able to move many of her belongings to a higher place before leaving.

“Thankfully I was able to throw a lot of stuff on my bed before I had to evacuate,” Thompson said. “I mainly lost a lot of clothing and sentimental stuff, which is hard, but it could have been a lot worse.”

Clark, who lost the most out of everyone living in the apartment, said nothing on her floor was salvageable.

“All of my shoes are ruined except for the pair I was wearing and a pair of tennis shoes that I was able to wash,” Clark said. “I had a lot of stuff underneath my bed, like my craft box and letters and cards that were in a cardboard box that were also ruined.”

Management told the students with flood-damaged rooms to be moved out by May 29, Di Napoli said.

“We were originally told that we needed to get all of our personal furniture and any items we needed to survive out of our apartment while they fixed it,” Di Napoli said. “However, they later told us we needed be moved out of the apartment by the 29th because our current lease was being terminated.”

As the girls had renewed their apartment lease for the following school year, Di Napoli said the termination meant they would have to find a new place to live for the next two months.

Di Napoli said the complex is still holding them to their new lease in August, despite ending their current contract.

“We have done our best to get out of the new lease because we didn’t feel like it was a renewal if our current lease doesn’t exist anymore,” Di Napoli said. “Legally they seem to be within their bounds, but I do know what they’re doing is ethically wrong.”

Thompson said she and her roommates are hesitant to move back into the apartment after learning this is the second time in two years it has flooded.

“We didn’t know that the apartment had flooded previously in 2013 until we had already signed the lease and moved in, but it does make me nervous to move back in here after I have seen what that river can do,” Thompson said. “Looking at our building, you wouldn’t ever think that the water would get that high.”

The girls were frustrated to learn that renters insurance does not cover flood-damaged items unless a specific policy is purchased.

“My parents and I decided that we would buy flood insurance after this happened, but after doing our research we discovered that since that specific apartment had flooded twice before, it would be nearly impossible to get insurance for it,” Di Napoli said. “So if it happens again, none of us will be able to do anything about it.”

Thompson said the whole experience has reiterated to her how important is it to volunteer in the community during times of crisis.

“As soon as I realized the extent of the damage, I got out and helped at the Hays County Food Bank, and I encourage everybody to donate anything they can,” Thompson said. “Even if you can’t donate any items, I would encourage people to get out in the community for at least two hours and help a family.”