New Brunswick

Tenants forced to leave unsafe Miramichi building could return in 'next few days'

A landlord in Miramichi is hoping to get more than 50 tenants back into their homes over the next few days after unsafe living conditions forced them out last week. 

Red Cross says 14 tenants stayed at an emergency shelter in Miramichi on Monday night

Tenants of 15 Cole Cres., were told by the fire department that their three-storey apartment building was not up to code last week. They haven't been able to stay there since. (Steve MacDonald/Facebook)

A landlord in Miramichi is hoping to get more than 50 tenants back into their homes over the next few days after unsafe living conditions forced them out last week. 

"We're working full blast, I'm working late hours … I think I'm going 16 hours a day, just trying to get this in," said Brian Grosseth, who is the landlord of the Miramichi apartment building.

But tenants still feel in the dark.

"Our beneficiaries here are definitely curious to see when they can go home," said Elizabeth Hendrick, the emergency management co-ordinator with the Canadian Red Cross. 

The residents of the 42 units — 19 apartments and 23 hostel-style rooms — were given four hours notice on June 19 to leave after a fire marshal deemed the building at 15 Cole Cres. unsafe because of renovations that left exposed wiring in hallways and stairwells.

The Red Cross said 42 of the tenants are registered with the organization. Fourteen stayed at the emergency shelter on Monday night. 

"For the first few days there was definitely a sense of shock and a feeling of great loss because people had been displaced from their homes, where many of them had been living for years," Hendrick said. 

Bringing building up to code

Grosseth said a locksmith was at the building Monday checking all the doors.

The wiring can't be covered until electrical inspectors deem it safe, he said. 

Because it's an old military building, things need to be changed, including moving panels higher up on the walls, he said. 

The fire marshal also ordered Grosseth to install fire doors on the entrances into a lounge and a common kitchen he built. 

"That's understandable, I never even thought of that," he said.

Listen to apartment owner Brian Grosseth explain what he's doing to get tenants back into their homes

People in a Miramichi apartment building deemed unsafe by the fire marshal still have no word on when they can return home. But the building owner, Brian Grosseth, said he's working on getting everything fixed, and hopes most of the residents can return in the coming week. 4:03

Provincial volunteers help out

The emergency shelter housing some tenants was moved to James M. Hill Memorial High School on Sunday after a scheduling conflict at the Golden Hawk Gym meant a new location had to be found.

Inside the school, the Red Cross's Hendrick said areas have been set up for residents to sleep, play games and take part in different activities. Showers, meals and counselling services have also been provided to residents staying at the shelter. 

"At this point we do have people who are just going to stay with us until they can either move back home or find something more suitable," she said. 

When the apartment building was first evacuated, Hendrick said volunteers were deployed from all over the province.

She said there aren't many Red Cross volunteers on the ground in Miramichi. Instead, volunteers travelled from places, such as Fredericton, Bathurst, Moncton and Saint John.

Shock wearing off

"We were also given short notice that this evacuation was happening in Miramichi," she said.

But residents and volunteers are coping with the situation.

"The shock seems to have died off a little bit in the sense that people are sort of, making other plans," she said. 

She said residents are finding alternate housing arrangements and returning to work.

But volunteers with the Red Cross will help run the emergency shelter as long as they're needed.

With files from Information Morning Moncton, Shift New Brunswick


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