SUNRISE (CBS4) – A handful of residents in a Sunrise community are rejoicing tonight.
Nearly 8 weeks after being evacuated from their homes when part of their backyards collapsed into a canal, repairs are completed at Spring Tree Cove West and residents are able to return home.
Alan Lueck and his uncle, Louis Sasso, are the only two to return so far, but others are expected to move back in on Saturday.
“It’s just a relief,” Lueck told CBS 4′s Carey Codd. “It’s a burden off my shoulders.”
At Sasso’s home, the Christmas decorations still hang from the walls. It’s proof that when the canal back collapsed on December 16th, residents were forced to grab what they could and flee.
A total of seven townhouses were evacuated and declared unsafe. For weeks, residents didn’t know if the homes sustained significant damage and when or if they’d be able to return home.
“It was eerie to come back in,” said Sasso, adding that he spent about $1,700 on hotels, food and gas while out of his home.
There is debate over who owns the land — Broward County or the Spring Tree Cove West homeowner’s association. While that is sorted out, the city of Sunrise spent $250,000 to repair the canal bank with rock, sand, dirt and soil. The city plans to put up fencing in the backyard.
Each home had to be certified as safe by a structural engineer before the city would allow residents to move back in.
“To my knowledge none of the houses moved,” Sasso said. “Mine didn’t move, I know that.”
But Sasso believes the erosion might have caused minor cracks in some of the other homes.
Regardless, the city said it did what it had to do by fixing the canal bank quickly.
“I’m ecstatic that the city responded in such a forceful way,” said Mayor Mike Ryan. “Our entire effort is getting in touch with the residents and celebrating getting them back in their homes. It proves that government can do things right occasionally.”
Lueck said the new backyard — which has a steeper slope than before — is bigger and better. He credits the city of Sunrise with paying for an fixing a problem that wasn’t theirs.
“Their main concern was the integrity of the community and I don’t see that in a lot of communities,” Lueck said. “I’m proud to live in Sunrise.”