'A nightmare': Waukesha condo residents have 8 hours to pack up everything after building deemed unsafe
WAUKESHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Thursday marked move-out day for some of the people forced to evacuate a Waukesha condo building.
The 48-unit complex was found to be structurally unsound, leaving many families without homes.
Police and firefighters cleared the Horizon West Condominium building last week, after it was deemed unfit for human occupancy. The structural damage was discovered when a contractor started removing balconies.
City officials are staggering the move-outs so there aren't too many people in the building at a time. Residents could sign up for appointments to move out starting at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 9. They are allowed two four-hour shifts, for a total of up to eight hours to move everything out of their condos. Only three units are moving out at a time and only seven people will be allowed per unit.
Some families will move out Thursday and others will move out in the coming weeks. Not all of them have a place lined up to go.
"You have a home for twenty-some years, and you're told you have four hours to move? C'mon. So now they upped it to another four hours another day. But even eight hours -- could you move out of your house in eight hours?," asked Kipp Kennedy, who has lived in the building for two decades.
Mary O'Herron said her mentality will be "grab and go" as she prepares to pack up her home of three decades.
"I found myself in a grief filled position," she said.
O'Herron said there is a bit of relief knowing that she will be able to collect her belongings, but she's sad to lose her home. She said she's lost all the equity on her condo.
"For me, it's just stuff inside," O'Herron said. "We're walking away with our lives, but it'll be nice to have some of the things that we've been looking for for a while."
She and her sister have to be out of their Airbnb by Christmas Eve. Others are still trying to sort out logistics.
"We had a moving company that was going to move some of us. They've canceled now because they're afraid to go in the building, which we were told is secure for us now," Kennedy said.
Kennedy called it a "slap in the face" to say goodbye to the condo she poured money into over the last 20 years.
"We're in a pretty bad bind, too. We don't have a home," Kennedy said.
Community members stopped by to donate boxes, including Tom Zimmermann, who lives in the house next door.
"I feel sorry for all the people that are in this place. It's gotta be a nightmare for them," he said. "It's kind of a nightmare for us, but still at least we have a place to live and stay."
For now, condo residents said they're battling insurance companies and racking up bills as they eat out three meals a day.
"We need any help we can get," Kennedy said.