Twenty families from Gordon River Apartments in Naples were forced to temporarily relocate after Hurricane Irma ripped the roofs from three buildings in the complex.
Among those families, 19 were staying in Collier County at other apartments managed by Pikus Property Management, the landlord of Gordon River Apartments in the low-income River Park neighborhood, said Matt Pikus, company president.
Venat Bellegarde, 30, his wife and their young daughter didn’t get a spot at another property. He was staying with a friend at the Jasmine Cay Apartments in Naples, and his wife and daughter were staying with family in the Naples Manor area, Bellegarde said.
Pikus said the tenants might have to live in those temporary locations for as long as three months as crews work to replace the roofs.
During that time, Pikus will charge tenants the same monthly rent they were paying at Gordon River Apartments, he said. Tenants — some of whom have been out of work since the storm — also will have until Oct. 15 to pay October’s rent, Pikus said.
Bellegarde said he still is trying to find a way to pay September’s rent. He has struggled to find work at his construction job since the storm, he said.
“I’m a little sad,” Bellegarde said.
Tenants feared they would be displaced when Irma’s winds Sept. 10 clawed at the roofs of the three buildings, which included 22 occupied units, at Gordon River Apartments.
After the storm, the Naples Fire-Rescue Department ordered the power shut off at the affected buildings. Wet spots in the walls and ceiling could create a fire hazard if they came in contact with electricity, said Bob Rogers, Naples fire marshal.
The homes became unlivable.
“We were between a rock and a hard spot,” Rogers said. “We knew that by cutting off the power, it really inconveniences them.”
Judith Brissett-Morris, her husband and their two children relocated to an unoccupied unit in another building at Gordon River Apartments.
“We’re coping,” Brissett-Morris, 47, said. “It wasn’t a clean place. But we cleaned it up as best we could.”
Rainwater from Irma poured into tenants' homes, causing property damage.
Emines Alliance, 50, said water damage ruined clothes, his carpet, a sofa and the mattress that his two children slept on.
The kids now are using his mattress at their temporary apartment in Golden Gate. Alliance, and he and his wife are sleeping on the floor.
“It’s pretty good so far,” Alliance said. “We’re feeling a little bit better than we were before.”
Watch a submitted video from Karen Haupt of Bayfront in downtown Naples.