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City, Red Cross help residents evacuated from damaged apartment building

18 families left homeless; Some 200 trees downed by Monday's stormilities


The 9th Street apartments, located on 9th and Jackson, were evacuated yesterday after suffering extensive damage during Monday's storm when a tree crashed through the structure.

"The roof sustained severe, catastrophic damage," said Sidney Police Chief B.J. Wilkinson.

The building was deemed unsafe for habitation by the city building inspector, according to the evacuation notice. Residents had to be out of the building by 3 p.m. Tuesday. Landlords worked with the city to attempt to refund residents' last month's rent to allow them monetary resources for temporary relocation. Yesterday afternoon residents removed necessary personal items from the building.

The evacuation left 18 families without permanent housing, for the moment.

The residents have been asked to evacuate until the owner, insurance agents and the building inspector can determine if the building can be repaired. The city will attempt to work toward solutions to repair the building. This building was home to some of its residents for many years.

"That's pretty traumatic," said city manager Gary Person.

The city is hopeful that the issues with the 9th Street apartments can be overcome, but the burden of repairing the building falls on the owner.

Community development director Megan McGown is working to find financial assistance to help the owner facilitate repairs to the building. The residents were very cooperative during the evacuation efforts, Person said.

"That had to be heart wrenching," he added.

City officials worked with other local housing owners and managers to find shelter for residents of the 9th Street apartments.

"No one's sleeping without a roof over their head tonight," Wilkinson said.

The Red Cross arrived in Sidney Tuesday to aid with the displacement and other needs of those impacted by the storm. The city also asked the Salvation Army for help.

“In the days and weeks to come, the Red Cross will be coordinating with emergency officials and local community partners to help residents impacted by the storm get back on their feet,” said Shelly Penner, Red Cross Spokesperson in a press statement.

The Red Cross worked all through the night on Tuesday to help Sidney residents still in need. The organization helped find shelter for six area families including nine adults and four children. Workers will meet with more families today, to find out how they can provide assistance. Many of those left temporarily homeless due to the 9th Street evacuation found shelter with friends or family.

The impact of the storm that damaged the roof Monday was widespread. Several dozen roads were impassible Monday night due to water, debris and down power lines, according to Wilkinson.

"A number of vehicles were stranded," Wilkinson said.

Police dealt with a truck that floated out of the Havorka lot on 12th and Illinois after the storm. One vehicle was completely submerged in the extremely high water in the underpass after the storm. Another car was partially underwater at the Git N Split, as well as a vehicle by Cenex gas station.

The only safe way for North side residents to make it home after the storm was the detour around the cemetery on Greenwood Road, the same one used during underpass construction.

Wilkinson advised that citizens should use some common sense the next time a storm like this overwhelms the city.

"The best thing would have been to stay home," Wilkinson said.

The Chief estimates that at one point Monday night about half the city was without power, as well as a large portion of the surrounding rural area. Power outages were due to wind, fallen trees and lightening. Wilkinson estimates that many dozens of homes and businesses if not more sustained some kind of flood damage on Monday.

Sidney police are not aware of any injuries associated with the storm, which was surprising because there was so much damage to trees, houses and other structures across the city, Wilkinson said.

"We're very fortunate not to have an injury or fatality," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson comes from an area in which severe weather often results in deaths.

"I felt blessed that we didn't have that," he said.

The police have been working overtime in the past few days to make sure they meet the needs of Sidney's residents.

"We're addressing situations as they occur and taking care of the citizens," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson and his staff are working to make sure the city is safe.

"We're putting out fires, watching the weather and trying to address problems," Wilkinson said.

Person praised city workers for their response at last night's city council meeting.

"We have well-trained people," he said. "Very dedicated, loyal employees that react and respond and do their jobs extraordinarily well as the heroes behind the scenes and providing that protection for the public."

Many city employees worked 36 hours straight to get the city back up and running, Person added. The city lost many trees in the storm including 20 at the cemetery, eight at the golf course and 10 in the parks system. Person said it would be impossible to truly gauge how many trees were lost across the entire city, but estimates that it was more than 200. Person also praised the efforts of the city's volunteer workers.

"The volunteer fireman had three fires last night and did a marvelous job responding to that," Person said.


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