ROCK FALLS – Elevator parts are the next and – with a little luck – last hurdle to be cleared in getting 63 elderly and disabled residents of Civic Plaza II back into their apartments.
A frozen sprinkler system pipe burst and flooded the five-story building Jan. 4, forcing the evacuation of the residents. Some are staying with family and friends, while others still are at two Rock Falls hotels.
Plans to move the residents back in last Friday were thwarted by a water line break early that morning. The latest water line problem was caused by the thawing of the pipes that came with the higher temperatures, Civic Plaza II Manager Tatum Eckstein said Monday.
“The good news is there has been no more water in the building since Friday morning,” Eckstein said.
The bad news is that the elevators aren’t working. The latest flooding hit the first floor and elevator shaft.
“Friday’s water redamaged everything with the elevators and flooded the control room,” Eckstein said.
If all goes according to plan, the elevators could be fixed today or Wednesday. The elevators are older, however, making it more difficult to find the needed parts.
As soon as the elevators are working, the residents will be able to return to their apartments.
“There is some restoration work that will go on, but it’s things like drywall repair that can be done while the residents are there,” Eckstein said.
The evacuation process was a complex emergency situation that went smoothly because of the cooperation of many agencies and individuals in the community. Bringing the residents back to their homes should be much simpler, according to Karen Nelson, disaster action team leader for Lincolnland Red Cross.
“Once we know the day, we just have to call Self Help for the wheelchair residents,” Nelson said. “Some have their own cars, and we might only use one bus.”
When the residents were evacuated, they brought only a few clothing items and their medications, Nelson said.
While the Red Cross contributed mightily to the evacuation efforts, Nelson doesn’t expect to play a big role in the residents’ return.
“They should have all their basics when they get back,” Nelson said. “I don’t anticipate us having to do much unless it’s on a case-by-case basis.”