SUNRISE (CBS4) – A week after erosion turned their backyards into a canal, a group of townhouse owners in Spring Tree Cove West in Sunrise are still not allowed back in their residences due to safety concerns.
During a meeting to discuss the situation Tuesday evening they learned that an engineer hired by the city will inspect the site on Wednesday and search for a way to stabilize the land. The engineer will also try and determine if the townhouses sustained any significant damage and if, so, how and when they can be fixed. City officials say their greatest concern is whether the canal bank is going to continue to erode and how to stabilize it.
“It’s amazingly disheartening,” said Lester Diaz, who just moved into his home with his wife and two kids two months ago. “We’re gonna have to go pretty light on the Christmas presents. We’re gonna have to give some of that money to savings.”
Diaz said the most frustrating part is the lack of answers coming from the city of Sunrise and from his insurance company. He and other residents wonder who will pay to fix the erosion, which claimed nearly all of his backyard, and how long it will take to fix the problem.
“(It’s) a ping pong game with 3 or 4 balls at one time,” Diaz said. “Everybody’s pointing fingers. Everybody’s doing what they can to not be at fault for this.”
Diaz said he and his family are staying in a relative’s rental home but just for a few days. After that, he’s not sure where they will go. He and other residents said they are not in a financial position to pay the mortgage on their homes while also paying rent for another home.
Diaz works the phones from morning until night trying to get answers. He said a group of engineers gave him some bad news.
“From the 3 engineers we spoke to yesterday (Monday) they said if you don’t act now you’re going to be looking at worse damage,” he said.
Residents — including Diaz’s wife, Angela Boisvert, attended the meeting Tuesday night with city leaders to try and get answers.
“I just want to make sure someone is looking at my house and it’s not gonna fall into the canal,” Boisvert told Mayor Mike Ryan.
She also said the ordeal left her oldest daughter frightened.
“My daughter doesn’t want to live there anymore,” she said. “My 7-year-old has said she doesn’t ever want to move back in. It was her room right above the water.”
Ryan called this “a community problem” and said the city is doing what it can to help.
“We don’t think it’s city land but that doesn’t change our view of what we need to do,” Ryan told CBS 4 News. “It’s not good for our city for these buildings to be lost. It’s not good for these families and it’s just the right thing to do. So we’re gonna try to figure out what it takes to stabilize them. If no one else is gonna step then we’re gonna have to move forward and try to fill that gap.”
For now, the problem affects 7 townhomes that are blocked off with a Sunrise Police officer sitting guard outside. Residents said they are only allowed in for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time to retrieve items.
Louis Sasso has had to go back to his home to gather medications for his heart condition and diabetes. He said there was a problem about a year and a half ago with erosion but nothing like this. He said he and others cannot afford to pay a mortgage on a house they can’t live in and rent on an apartment they don’t need.
“I really can’t take much more of this,” Sasso said. “I want my house fixed in the back and I want to get back on with my life.”
All the affected residents said they have contacted their insurance companies and have been told this issue is not covered by their policy. The question at hand is who is responsible for the land — the city, the county, the homeowner or the homeowner’s association. An association employee told the Sunrise City Manager they do not believe the land is their responsibility.
Louis Gomex has lived in his town home for 6 years. He cares for two daughters and a grandchild. He said they do not have permanent housing and want answers.
“(City officials) they don’t even know. So imagine me knowing who’s responsible? Nobody wants to say who’s responsible. So the only ones that suffer are the homeowners,” he said.
CBS4’s Carey Codd contributed to this report