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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Timeline: Jervay is still closed with no reopening scheduled, here’s how it got that way

The private developer that operates the housing community released a detailed timeline of what happened leading up -- and following -- Hurricane Florence.

FEMA officials have set up shop at the main office of Jervay Communities in Wilmington. The agency knew for over a week about the impending evictions, as did local officials, but apparently could not warn tenants. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)
FEMA officials set up at Jervay Communities after residents were notified of their impending eviction. (Port City Daily photo / Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — The Jervay Communities housing development suffered severe water damage during Hurricane Florence, a delayed-reaction disaster that caused over a hundred evictions until two months after the storm had passed.

Related: Local and federal officials met before Wilmington evictions, but say they couldn’t warn tenants

When residents of the public-private development were notified, many were caught off guard. Over 50 households were ultimately told their homes and apartments had sustained too much damage to remain habitable.

Having thought they’d weathered the storm, they were now being forced to leave their homes — and enter an already-tight housing market that had been furthered burdened by evictions from several other lower-rent apartment complexes.

There is still no official timeline for reopening the damaged units – residents were told “six months or more” by representatives of the housing development and the Wilmington Housing Authority (WHA) – but there now a more clear accounting of what happened leading up and following to the storm.

Telesis Corporation, the private-owner of much of the Jervay Communities development, maintains that it made and continues to make all possible good faith efforts to minimize displacement and communicate with those residents who were evicted due to storm damage, according to Founder and President Marilyn Melkonian.

Melkonian said there was no official estimate on when residential units would be reopened. She did, however, provide a detailed timeline of what led up to the evictions.

Jervay Communities eviction timeline:

  • 30 days prior to Hurricane Florence: Tree’s trimmed ahead of inspection and storm drains cleared.
  • Monday, Sept. 10: Preparations for hurricane underway. Management staff distributed an emergency preparedness letter to all residents. Information informed residents to stay alert to City of Wilmington alerts and shelters that were available to them. Senior residents, were visited to ensure they were prepared and all items were removed from their porches.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 11: Weekend events cancelled.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 12: WHA offices and sites closed.
  • Thursday, Sept. 13: On site management office closed.
  • Friday, Sept. 14: Hurricane Florence reported to have made landfall around 7 a.m. near Wrightsville Beach. Flooding and downed trees blocked access to the site and roads in and around Wilmington for several days following the storm.
  • Friday, Sept. 21: First day the site was accessible, a full week after flooding and road closures. Initial repairs undertaken over the next several weeks to accommodate residents staying in units (tree removal, debris cleanup, temporary roof repair, removal of interior damaged sheetrock, etc.)
  • Monday, Oct. 1: Contractor engaged to perform emergency repairs and clean-up.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 30: Consultant engaged to inspect all units and determine extent of the damage. It is determined that approximately 70 units have damage and that residents of approximately 53 of those units will need to be relocated for 6 months or more. Consultant marshaled forces of FEMA and New Hanover County (NHC) to aid in accommodating temporary relocation (53 households) and provide assistance.
  • Monday, Nov. 12: Initial notice sent to residents (see below), from Brendella Blanks, site manager for Telesis.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13: Notice to households that suffered damage was distributed with instructions to vacate (see attached).
  • Tuesday, Nov. 13 Wednesday, Nov. 14: There were two initial meetings with residents with management, contractor, consultant, FEMA, New Hanover County (see attached letter). FEMA/NHC remained on site for the next two weeks to work with staff and residents to find lodging, receive FEMA initial stipend and security deposits returned.
  • Thursday, Nov. 29: Final notification of deadline for residents to vacate on or before Thursday, December 6, 2018 (see attached). At that point there were only around four households remaining.
  • Monday, Dec. 3: Remaining four households relocated.

Documents

  • First notice sent to residents on Sept. 10, as Hurricane Florence approached the Carolina Coast.

A hurricane (Florence) or strong storm winds may affect our area as soon as Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. To assist you in preparation for this storm, we request that you review the following:

Residents shall remove ALL items from balconies, breezeways and all other outdoor areas around their apartment as soon as possible. Any items left out could become deadly projectiles in a strong wind.

Listen to the radio or television for hurricane progress reports. Follow instructions if ordered to evacuate.

Check your emergency supplies. Store drinking water in clean bathtubs, jugs, bottles and cooking utensils.

Turn the refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings if not instructed by officials to turn off utilities.

Fuel your car. Review evacuation routes. Gather your disaster supply sit in case you are instructed to evacuate and include such items as:

Flashlight and extra batteries Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries First-aid kit Emergency food and water Nonelectric can openers Essential medicines Cash and credit cards Sturdy shoes and a change of clothing Copies of important papers, including bank accounts, insurance and household inventory records

We wish you and your family safety during the storm, and will respond as quickly as possible to any reported damage in the community.

  • First notice of possible evictions, sent to residents on Nov. 12, approximately two weeks after contractors concluded over 50 units were no longer habitable.

Dear Jervay Resident:

As you are aware, we have been assessing the damages to the buildings at Jervay caused by Hurricane Florence. We sincerely appreciate your patience as we navigate through this process. We have been notified that some of the buildings have sustained damage that requires repairs or other action. Unfortunately, due to the extent of the repairs that are needed, some buildings may be uninhabitable for a period of time while repairs are made. We will be issuing a separate notice to those residents who will be impacted by the repair and . restoration efforts. The notice will include needed information about emergency assistance being made available through New Hanover County and FEMA.

Jervay and Neighborhood Partners will be hosting several Town Hall Meetings this week at the Jervay Community Center. Please plan to attend. The meetings will include New Hanover County officials and FEMA representatives in attendance to assist you and answer any questions you have. They will provide information on benefits and other assistance that will be available. The proposed dates and times of these meetings are Tuesday (11/13/18) and Wednesday (11/14/2018) from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Thank you and we will work together to meet these challenges.

Sincerely,

Brendella Blanks

  • Eviction notices sent on Nov. 13 to the 53 units that had been deemed uninhabitable.

Dear Jervay Resident:

As you are aware, your dwelling unit suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Florence. You will need to keep this letter and furnish it to be eligible for certain benefits.

Pursuant to Provision X of your Lease Agreement, New Dawson, LP has certain duties and responsibilities in ensuring the health and safety of its residents and making the unit habitable for continued housing. Pursuant to Provision X, New Dawson, LP is informing you that, due to the extent of damage to your unit, it will be necessary for you vacate the premises as soon as possible to allow for necessary repairs to be completed. As explained below, it will be necessary for you to provide this letter to the FEMA representative who will be on site in order for you to take advantage of FEMA benefits.

Please find below information that will be critical in assisting you with securing needed benefits through New Hanover County and FEMA. For those residents who are voucher holders, it is important that you contact your Voucher Program Specialist at the Housing Authority to advise of your temporary displacement so that you can take the necessary steps to retain your voucher.

Emergency Assistance and Temporary Housing:

Jervay has been in contact with New Hanover county officials and FEMA. Representatives will be onsite Tuesday (11/13/18) and Wednesday (11/14/2018) from 1pm-3pm and from 6pm-8pm to assist anyone with registering for assistance, answering questions, and other related services. We will have free lunch available on those dates. Again, please bring this letter with you to show to the FEMA representative.

Moving and Storage:

We understand that the transition during the repair process will be difficult. We have retained assistance with moving your personal property items out of your unit and into onsite storage units. You will be required to sign a waiver and voluntarily surrender your keys to utilize these services. Please understand that these onsite storage units will NOT be accessible during the repair process due to security, safety, and logistics reasons, and should be utilized for items like furniture and non-essential items. All essential items that you will need MUST be taken with you when you vacate the property. We will have a limited supply of free packing supplies and boxes at the community center for your convenience.

Security Deposit Disbursement:

In order to assist you with any out of pocket expenses you may incur, we will be refunding you the security deposit you paid for your dwelling unit. That will occur as soon as possible. You will be advised as to the days and times that you may receive retum of your security deposit.

Sincerely,

Brendella Blanks

  • Second eviction notice, sent to residents on Nov. 29.

Dear Jervay Resident:

As you are aware, a notice was previously provided to you advising that it would be necessary for you to vacate the premises as soon as possible to allow for necessary repairs to be completed to your dwelling unit. You were also provided important information to secure FEMA benefits, temporary moving and storage on site and disbursement of your security deposit to assist you with out of pocket expenses.

To date, you have not vacated the premises. Please be advised that if will be necessary for you to vacate the premises on or before Thursday, December 6, 2018. In the event you fail to vacate, we will be forced to pursue all legal means available to secure the premises.

Sincerely,

Brendella Blanks


Send comments and tips to Benjamin Schachtman at ben@localvoicemedia.com, @pcdben on Twitter, and (910) 538-2001.

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