Tenants of flooded Manitoba Housing complex could be displaced for months

Manitoba Housing says it could be up to six months before residents who were forced out of a downtown apartment building due to flooding last week can return home.

Flooded basement forced the evacuation of 185 Smith St. in downtown Winnipeg last week

Todd Donahue has been staying in hotels since the Manitoba Housing apartment complex at 185 Smith St. was evacuated on April 16. (Tim Fontaine)

Manitoba Housing says it could be up to six months before residents who were forced out of a downtown apartment building can return home.

For over a week, dozens of residents of 185 Smith St. have been living in downtown hotels after a broken water pipe caused significant flooding in the apartment building's basement, damaging plumbing and elevators.

"We've been working with them — the most vulnerable and some with mobility issues and things like that — to relocate them out of hotels as quickly as possible into other units within Manitoba Housing," said Gord Thomas, executive director of property services at Manitoba Housing.

However, Thomas said some could be in hotels for much longer.

Todd Donahue is one of those now forced to stay in a hotel. He's very critical of how Manitoba Housing handled the evacuation.

Donahue said in the first few days of being in hotels, no one from Manitoba Housing told the evacuees what was happening or when they could return home.

He was first put in a room at the Radisson Hotel on Portage Avenue before being moved to a Best Western.

Donahue claims that some people went hungry because a meal plan that was offered to evacuees wasn't working.

"It was a horrifying experience for some," he said. "There were people there that are in the their 80s and 90s that are diabetic. No insulin, no food for days."

Thomas admits it was hectic during the first few days of the evacuation, but he said Manitoba Housing did the best it could under very difficult circumstances.

"It's not something we do everyday, of course, evacuating 186 people out of a high-rise building," he said.

Repairs are already underway at 185 Smith St., but a worker told CBC News they couldn't say when the building could be livable again.