Building condemned due to instability

By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Thursday night, the building in Gilpin Court is condemned and inspectors are due there Friday morning to determine what should be done next.

Crews have been out there since two Thursday afternoon when residents reported hearing a loud boom. Police and maintenance for the Richmond Housing Authority are on scene and will remain here all night to monitor the situation.

The question officials asked earlier still remains. With this damage is it possible all or a portion of this building could eventually collapse?

"I was up in the bedroom and I heard a boom! It was like a explosion! And the building was shaking," said Kellisha Cox who was evacuated from the damaged building.

This is the story we hear repeated over and over again from many of the residents who live in this part of Gilpin Court. For two women though, the situation is even scarier. The loud boom came from their homes.

Rosa Wells has lived in Gilpin for 32 years. After hearing the noise she went back inside to find a large crack in her wall and pieces of her ceiling that had collapsed.

"Like it's getting ready to cave in 50 and I saw some fire. I said 'Oh my god, oh my god! Call the fire department!'" Rosa said.

Kellisha Cox heard the noise and grabbed her son. He was the only one of her five children home at the time.

"Its very scary, very scary. Because the lives of my children were in danger and I mean, I didn't even know that," said Kellisha.

The Richmond Housing Authority says the development was built in 1967. Officials say there's nothing in their records to indicate structural instability. But with bricks separated like legos, neighbors are now questioning their safety in a place they never thought they'd have to, home.

"All of them was built around the same time, so being that all of them were built at the same time, it could happen to any of us," said Hakima Gol.

Structural engineers are expected back Friday morning to perform tests that should determine the stability of the building.

They'll also examine other surrounding buildings to make sure they are safe, as well. In the meantime, if residents have any concerns, they can call the RRHA after hours maintenance line at 780-4100.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.