911 Yonge part II

Flooded-out condo residents won’t get back into homes until May

Toronto Star
Marco Chown Oved—Staff Reporter
21 Feb 2013

Many people look forward to Victoria Day as the first long weekend of spring, but the residents of a Yorkville condo evacuated in January have circled the date for a different reason: it’s when they’ll finally be allowed back home.

The different companies have posters on the windows.

At a community meeting Wednesday evening, the condo owners, renters and business owners who rushed out of 914-920 Yonge St. last month when a flood caused a fire were informed that the building would not be safe for another 12 to 14 weeks.

A collective gasp went through the room when the timeline was announced by Dale Gair, project manager for Respond Plus, a disaster restoration company that was brought in to do the repairs. Residents had previously been told they’d be back in eight to 10 weeks.

“In my 32 years in this business, I’ve never seen a situation like this,” said Glen Luckasavitch, regional property manager with Brookfield Residential Services, who manages the building. “It’s a catastrophe.”

The three-alarm fire started when water from a broken city water main flooded the building’s underground hydro locker just after 3 a.m. on Jan. 30, said city spokesperson Wynna Brown.

The water ran down the underground parking ramp and flooded the building’s basement shoulder high, Gair told the meeting. Between 900,000 and 1.5 million litres of water completely destroyed the electrical room and took two and a half days to pump out.

Two huge dryer hoses helping to dry out the building

Residents were told the lengthy repairs are necessary because everything in the building’s electrical system will need to be replaced but the wiring.

Former condo board member Rafaell Cabrera said he couldn’t believe they were rebuilding the electrical room back in the basement instead of on the roof, as many buildings did in New York after Hurricane Sandy.
“Why would we put it back in the basement if it’s just going to flood again?” he asked.

Since it was the city’s water main that broke, many of those present called for the city to take responsibility for the repairs. Resident Diane Robinson, said she had already spoken with a lawyer but didn’t want to go into details until the court papers had been filed.

Luckasavitch said the building’s insurer had already filed a claim with the city and encouraged residents to do the same.

The city confirmed the broken water main was a 250 mm pipe dating
from 1881.

Residents were put up in hotels by the city for the first two weeks as part of a new city policy for disaster relief created after the Sunrise Propane fire in 2008 and the fire at 200 Wellesley St. E in 2010, said local city councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

When that help ran out last week, some applied for additional assistance, while others have turned to insurance and family to get them by.

But the longer wait worried many present at the meeting, who were concerned their insurance would be cut off.

Condo board chair Sonya Corkum encouraged everyone to go back to their insurers and demand that their coverage is extended.

It’s not just residents who’ve been displaced. Businesses running out of the building’s lower 10 floors have also been disrupted.

One of the city’s only 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals was located on the ground level. It was staff at Veterinary Emergency Clinic who noticed the smoke first and rushed to rescue the pets in their care.

VEC animal clinic

Despite being separate from the main building, the hospital hasn’t been able to return, and has been forced to relocate to Sheppard Ave. E., said Natasha Sapra, V.E.C.’s executive director.

“In 14 years, we haven’t been closed for one minute,” she said. “When we were forced to evacuate, staff didn’t even know where to find the key.”

4 months after fire, condo residents return
CBC News
04 June 2013

After a four-month ordeal, 100 condo residents are finally getting back into their homes at 914 Yonge St.

On Jan. 30, smoke filled several floors of the commercial and residential building at Yonge and Davenport.

The fire started when a water main broke, causing the basement to flood. That led to an electrical fire that forced residents to evacuate the building.

Since then, resident Anne Marie Hood has had to live in hotel rooms while repairs were completed.

She returned to her unit for the first time since March to find dead plants and spoiled food.

The city and her insurance covered some of her living expenses, but they did not cover everything.

She and other residents are now hoping the city will take responsibility for the water main break and offer compensation. The water main was 100 years old and some feel the city should be responsible.

"I don’t think I've ever experienced such an emotional roller-coaster ride," she told CBC.

Residents weren't the only ones displaced by the fire. A number of pets were removed from an animal clinic located on the building's main floor. Many were staying at the clinic overnight to recover from surgeries. None were hurt in the fire.

Condo residents will meet later this month to discuss next steps in their search for compensation.

City hall officials say anyone who believes they have a claim for damages against the city can submit one.

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