Dickinson cuts power to families struggling after Hurricane Harvey

DICKINSON, Texas (KTRK) -- Crews cut electricity to an apartment complex impacted by Hurricane Harvey late Wednesday in Dickinson. The Dickinson Fire Marshal's Office ordered the power to be turned off despite families still calling their units home at the Creekside Apartments.

Property management told Eyewitness News more than 30 families - about 100 people - are now in the dark.

Yalcin Demirbas owns the property. He explained he's frustrated by the city's action and said better communication is needed. He said the fire marshal made the move without warning. He said the families are staying in second-floor apartments which remained untouched by the flooding.

Demirbas said he isn't charging them rent.

He wants them to remain in their homes as renovations take place.

"Where can they go? No one has an answer. Please answer me where can they go," said Demirbas. "If someone has given me a list and those are the problems and you need to fix them, I will do it immediately. That's what I did before."

The city of Dickinson released the following statement to ABC13 when asked for comment.

"The Dickinson Fire Marshal's Office has been conducting damage assessments of commercial business and multi-family apartment complexes over the past weeks since the floods caused by Hurricane Harvey. Due to these historic floods, many buildings received major damage and have become uninhabitable. Once these buildings have been identified, the electricity has to be turned off for the safety of any remaining tenants or adjacent buildings.

"In regards to the Creekside Apartments in Dickinson, TX, our office has made several visits to this complex in the past weeks. Late last week three buildings that are part of this complex that have a separate address were identified as dangerous buildings, and several fire and life safety issues were found. The power to these buildings was disconnected at that time. At that time, management was advised that the remaining buildings would be evaluated in the week to come.

"On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the Fire Marshal's Office evaluated several buildings on the property of Creekside Apartments and found several fire and life safety issues including dangerous exposed electrical wiring within buildings that remained occupied. Additionally, these same buildings took on approximately 2 to 5 feet of flood waters submerging most of the first-floor electrical system under water. As well, due to the high water inside these units, there is an extreme health safety hazard for the remaining tenants as mold has started to spread upward towards the second-floor units within several buildings.

"Due to immediate fire and life safety issues found during this damage assessment evaluation, Fire Marshal staff ordered Texas New Mexico Power to disconnect the power to the complex. Unfortunately, due to the type of connection from TNMP to the complex, once disconnected it removed power to the entire complex.

"The City of Dickinson Building Department will work with the owner of Creekside Apartments on obtaining the proper permits to rebuild if this is what they choose to do.

"City staff worked with the Red Cross and a local church that same evening and were able to advise tenants of available shelters."

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