Moldy Existence – already dilapidated apartments worse after Ike – Texas City


Published November 27, 2008

TEXAS CITY — For most residents in Texas City, recovery from Hurricane Ike ended weeks ago. For James Pruitt, the stench and downed fence of an eyesore next door are daily reminders that not everyone has cleaned up after the storm.

Pruitt’s property backs up to the Chateau Jonon Apartments on Loop 197. Hurricane Ike tore the roofs off many units, and the apartments haven’t been livable since. Yellow tape warns people to stay out.

“The Dumpsters aren’t being emptied, and they are full,” Pruitt said. “The apartments aren’t locked. It’s not secure. How long before vagrants figure out these places are abandoned and they just take over?”

City records indicate the problems began long before Hurricane Ike came ashore Sept. 13, but the storm made the situation worse.

A Sept. 26 inspection found the apartment complex did not have smoke detectors. Inspectors also noted unsafe wiring and toxic mold.

The inspection also found that the stairs at the complex are unsafe and that the roof damage is so extensive that rainwater floods apartments upstairs and downstairs.

The city declared the apartments “unfit for human occupancy.”

Pruitt didn’t need an inspection to tell him that.

“Whenever I come home at night, the first thing I see are those apartments,” he said. “The city is probably doing all it can, but it is not enough. How long do we have to put up with this?”

Warning Issued

The answer is likely until January — at least. That’s when the apartment complex’s owner, Kent Yeates, is supposed to go before the city abatement commission, a group empaneled about five years ago to speed up the city’s process of ridding the community of abandoned or rundown buildings.

On Oct. 8, Yeates was sent a warning from the city that he had 60 days to fix all the problems found during the inspection or tear the buildings down.

Thus far, there’s been no movement. However, city officials said the owner’s wife did contact the city Monday asking to negotiate a way out of the citations.

Attempts by The Daily News to reach Yeates were not successful.

Pruitt said he understands the process will take time. He said he just would like to see some action taken to secure the buildings, move the piles of garbage out and rebuild the fence.

“It’s a matter of time before the riffraff of Texas City will start going through there,” he said. “I’m worried that they’ll end up on my property, and I’ll shoot somebody and then I’ll be the bad guy.”

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