Sabal Chase residents pack up with less than 48 to vacate, Irma flood waters damage homes

Posted at 11:25 PM, Sep 12, 2017

The clock is ticking for more than 100 families in Fort Pierce to evacuate their homes after the city condemned their apartments because it’s not safe.

Flood water from Hurricane Irma seeped into 144 units, which code and building officials want residents to vacate.

Now, those residents are scrambling to find a place to stay, pack up for an undisclosed amount of time.

Army Veteran Jerell Nickerson spent Tuesday afternoon packing up everything worth saving. He’s planning on moving altogether.

“I mean, that’s a health hazard. Just look at this. The floors. the scent, the aroma, it’s sickening.”

He could not believe the amount of rain that fell on his community. He also says he did not think it would seep through the foundation of his unit.

“You open the door, you’re swimming.”

No matter how they prepared, they were not prepared for this.

“Yeah, I had it boarded up, bought extra stuff, but water wins,” Nickerson said.

Margarita Rodriguez and her husband have hardly begun packing, not really sure where to start.

Their corner unit had water seeping in around their apartment.

“The more I cried and the more I said please stop raining, the more it came.”

They grabbed buckets to try to collect the water, but it was useless.

“The more water we took the more water came. It was a no ending battle.”

But the battle with Irma’s impact isn’t over for them.

“They come and tell us that we’ve gotta leave in 48 hours, that doesn’t give anybody enough time to take a shower!”  Rodriguez said.

They say some furniture is damaged, their floors are soaked, and they do not know how they will afford new furniture, or being displaced.

Mold remediation specialists say mold from Irma’s flooding could develop within 5 days of the rainfall.

Drying up the homes is going to take time.

“I’ve been through too much, I’ve been to war. But, I mean hey, you’ve just gotta adapt and overcome,” Nickerson said.

A spokesperson for Congressman Brian Mast said Mast is working as quickly as possible to have a declaration of disaster approved for St. Lucie and Martin Counties.

Residents hope they will be able to receive federal funding for repairs and reimbursement for the costs of vacating.

Property managers at Sabal Chase say they’re giving residents their security deposits, a $500 cash advance and prorating September rent to assist.

Police have been helping residents evacuate from Sabal Chase as well as two other neighborhoods dealing with flooding, Bent Creek and Lakes at Savannah.

A shelter is open temporarily for impacted residents.