Breaking News
More () »

Dozen of residents displaced after Lebanon apartment building floods

The city's fire chief says it happened when a "careless worker" somehow broke two water pipes and didn't know how to shut the water off.

LEBANON, Pa. — Dozens of residents in Lebanon returned home Tuesday morning to collect their belongings, one day after their apartment building flooded.

“It was total chaos, we had to evacuate everyone out of the building," said resident Leon Gettler.

It happened early Monday evening at an apartment building on Chesnut Street.

Lebanon City's Fire Chief, Duane Trautman, says a worker hired by the property owner told them he was moving items around on the fourth floor and somehow broke two PVC water pipes inside.

The worker was unable to figure out how to shut off the water.

“The water was pouring down from above, the ceiling was actively collapsing," said Chief Trautman.

Melissa Krall had to come help her father, who is a disabled veteran, evacuate.

"We got what we could but we’re going to end up losing what’s up there because it went down through his entire apartment," said Krall.

The entire building is now condemned after fire crews had to shut off the utilities.

The mess also impacted a staffing agency business which is housed inside.

“It ruined everything, I don’t know if they can repair it, they’re going to try, but it’s [going to] cost a lot of money," said Gettler.

No one was hurt, but Chief Trautman says more than 30 people are now without a place to live.

Many of them spent Monday night at a shelter set up at the city’s Salvation Army.

“The owner simply needs to employ some services of restoration to get out the wet carpet, to get the wet ceiling and components out, get dehumidifiers and dryers in here, get the electrical system back working, and get the building back open," said Chief Trautman. "This isn’t hard."

But so far, there is no word on a timeline for any repairs.

Chief Trautman and residents both say the landlord, John Sopensky, has not been cooperative.

“I know for a fact the property owner hung up on them last night and is refusing to cooperate with them and it’s making it so much harder for everyone who lives here," said Krall.

FOX43 called Mr. Sopensky, who said he has no comment on the situation.

Some of the affected residents are now staying with friends and family. For those still at the Salvation Army, officials there say they are able to stay until Saturday but then have to vacate.

The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross are working to find these residents another place to go if they need it.

Download the FOX43 app here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out