Residents of apartment complex destroyed by Ida remain in limbo 2 months after storm

It has been nearly two months since flooding from Ida devastated New Jersey, and residents throughout the state are still reeling from the damage the storm left behind.

News 12 Staff

Oct 28, 2021, 2:17 AM

Updated 901 days ago

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It has been nearly two months since flooding from Ida devastated New Jersey, and residents throughout the state are still reeling from the damage the storm left behind.
Among those still dealing with the effects of the flooding are the residents of Oakwood Plaza in Elizabeth. It is the same complex where four people died in the flood.
The complex is now surrounded by a 7-foot-tall fence. The site has been closed since the entire property flooded. Not much has changed for those who lived there. Many are still living in hotels and are waiting to get their belongings.
The property is abandoned, with plywood covering the windows and doors. Only a few of the 275 units look to be undergoing cleaning.
A handful of residents were at the property on Wednesday. They told News 12 New Jersey that CIS Management – the company that runs the property – is demanding that the residents continue to pay rent.
"I don't know why they're expecting them to pay rent when the whole complex is fenced up and gated,” says tenant Sherrise Simmons. "You shouldn't want to collect rent from these people. You should be trying to help these people that are in hotels."
Tenant Sharonda Moore showed News 12 photos of her Dodge Durango that was destroyed in the flood. She is now living in a Double Tree Hotel in Newark.
Moore says that CIS has not returned any of her phone calls.
“Why is it we are paying rent to reside over here, we don't even live here,” she says. “The last time we lived here was Sept. 1.”
The tenants say that they are upset that they are not allowed back inside the complex to get their personal belongings. They are being told that CIS will allow them to break their lease and leave, but they will forfeit their items.
Four people died in the September storm, including Shakia Garrett and three members of the Torres family. They were trapped inside the complex.
Garrett’s family says there are items inside the complex that they want.
"We are trying to get a court order to go inside her property. And the property of the Torres family,” says Hassanah Smith-Thomas. “Yes, it's a necklace with her grandmother's ashes in it. We want that and any paperwork that we can get. birth certificate, Social Security card."
There is another issue for those who are living in the complex with the help of Section 8 housing. They are being offered a new place to stay, but say the options are too far away.
"Many of these folks have been offered as far as way past Atlantic City, Toms River, Trenton,” says community activist Salam Ismael.
News 12 reached out to CIS Management, but did not hear back.
The city of Elizabeth is helping to pay for a hotel stay until November. But after that, these residents will likely need to look for a new place to live, because the repairs to the complex are nowhere near being finished.


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