Breaking Pipes Drown Apartment Building - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Breaking Pipes Drown Apartment Building

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Addie Olson


The bitter cold has led to an unusual number of pipe breaks at Prime Tower in the East Village. The problem has some tenants very upset – and in need of a new home.

"January 16th was the day that we got the letter," said tenant Kelsi Roby.

Roby, her mom and their dog have just weeks to abandon their home.

"As of last night, nobody knows where they're going," Roby said. "It is just heartbreaking."

The 17 tenants of Prime Tower were told to be out by the end of February and urged to leave sooner, if they can. The building's owner said they had no other choice.

Fourteen pipes have broken in the past 23 days.

Premier real estate took ownership of the building January 1st. Since then, several unoccupied apartments have been drowned by bursting pipes.

"We know they probably could be and they will be affected, so we're just trying to be proactive in getting them out of the building to prevent loss of personal belongings, potentially being injured by scalding water - things of that nature," said property owner Troy Strawhecker.

On January 15th Strawhecker's mechanical contractor told him he couldn't heat the building through the winter.

The tenants are on a month to month lease, but weren't expecting to have to move on some of the coldest days of the year.

"A few are just generally upset and I don't blame them," Strawhecker said.

Roby's mother, Helen, is disabled like some other tenants.

"I want to put it on the owners," Helen said of the incident. "But in a big way it's not their fault but I feel like I have to blame somebody."

She said regardless of where that blame lies, it won't make a costly move in the middle of winter any easier.

"You have to have some money and a lot of us just don't have it," Helen said.

Premier had planned on renovating the entire building including the pipes. They hoped to do that while the residents were still living there. They said it became apparent this month that would not be possible.

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