DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A month since high winds caused the deadly crane collapse at Elan City Lights Apartments in Dallas, former residents still cannot return home or get to their vehicles.
Joshua Gomez and his girlfriend Chelsea Villanueva said they ran out of the complex with just the clothes on their backs.
“I was in the garage and it started collapsing above me,” Gomez told the CBS 11 I-Team.
“Everything was still falling, I grabbed the dog and I ran outside.”
A month later they still have no answers. No home or no car. “I can’t move forward,” Villanueva said.
In a twist of fate, the couple was planning to move out of the apartment just three days later. The packed boxes still line their balcony.
The crane collapsed on his truck.
Gomez says he’s still paying for his new vehicle but the insurance company won’t pay him for the loss. He says the insurance company told him that the adjustor cannot get into the garage to verify the loss.
And he’s not alone.
Another resident, Jennifer Gonzalez, had to buy a new car while her old car sits in the garage undamaged.
No one can get to it because of the restricted access. Last week, her insurance company stopped paying for a rental car.
Gonzalez and others say despite repeated calls to the apartment complex and OSHA, they don’t know when they can get back in or what to do about their auto insurance issues
“Unfortunately we are getting the runaround,” Gonzalez said.
The I-Team went looking for answers.
Elan City Lights sent CBS 11 the following letter it sent its tenants on July 2, but would add nothing else:
We know you have been awaiting answers regarding your belongings and vehicles. There has been a lot of work and planning going on behind the scenes with various governmental agencies to develop a plan to safely recover your belongings. Here is what we know currently:
Units Within the Impacted Zone: â€¢ The impacted zone includes areas of the building directly impacted by the crane collapse, including the entire parking garage, and other areas that are structurally damaged, unsafe to enter, or that may contain evidence that OSHA has ordered to be preserved. â€¢ Please review the attached map for further detail on apartment units and portions of the building located in the impacted zone. â€¢ These portions of the building cannot be accessed until engineers have reviewed and certified the safety of the impacted structure. In addition, some of these areas will not be accessible until OSHA has completed their investigation and the crane has been removed. â€¢ The only entry and exit point to the parking garage was destroyed. No cars can be removed from the parking garage until the crane has been removed, the site has been released by applicable authorities and a plan has been put in place to extricate them from the remaining structure. â€¢ The collapsed crane also damaged Oncorâ€™s electrical infrastructure. The above described access cannot be made until electrical service is restored. â€¢ A plan to remove the crane is in progress and involves multiple experts, including contractors, engineers and governmental agencies. â€¢ Elan City Lights has asked these parties to expedite their analysis and to finalize this plan as quickly as possible due to the impact it has had on residents of the community. â€¢ Engineers, crane specialists, and disaster recovery contractors are on site this week assessing the plan for the removal of the collapsed crane as well as structural integrity of building within the impacted zone. Until these assessments are completed, we cannot provide a timeline for access within the impacted zone.
Units Outside the Impacted Zone: â€¢ There are 184 apartments outside of the impacted zone which are currently being reviewed by engineers and disaster recovery contractors to develop a plan for the safe recovery of resident belongings. â€¢ The plan requires several key components, including: o Certification by a structural engineer as to the safety and integrity of the units outside the impacted zone (Completed on 7/1) o Restoration of power in this area via commercial generators (in progress) o Inspection and recertification of the freight elevator (in progress) o A move out plan to professionally pack and move apartment contents (in progress) â€¢ Elan City Lights is expecting to have these required items completed and the plan submitted for final approval by authorities next week. â€¢ Given limitations on ingress/egress within this area, any removal of resident contents will only be performed by contractors under tight controls for safety and security.
We wish we could provide you with a more definitive timeline, but as you can see, there are many factors outside of our control. We understand your frustration and will continue to update you as we receive further information from authorities. You can contact the Elan City Lights team â€“ 214.965.6018. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elan City Lights Apartments
OSHA sent CBS 11 the following statement:
OSHA is the agency in charge of keeping workers safe. The safety of residents is the responsibility of the city and Elan, but please check with them as to who ultimately has that responsibility.
OSHA does not have the authority to stop residents from going back in. As to securing any possible evidence, I canâ€™t go into any more detail since it is an ongoing investigation. All I can tell you is that OSHA is not telling anyone to stay out of their residence. We cannot speak to the decisions made by other entities involved. I recommend you contact them.
Regarding insurance claims, the I-Team has found incidents such a crane collapse can get complicated. The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas tells us insurance companies typically categorize this as a “bad loss” where you will fair better if you have have “comprehensive coerage” rather than just liability or collision. But the Insurance Council of Texas says insurance companies all handle these claims differently. Which can be confusing.
The I-Team reached out to several insurance companies. State Farm tells us it has more than two dozen customers on site.
State Farm Statement
Our customers with comprehensive coverage available for the damaged vehicle were taken care of immediately after this incident. If they have any further questions they can reach back out to their agent or claim representative.
Allstate is working closely with customers who have filed claims for damages as a result of this terrible accident. We have around 25 Renters and Auto customers that resided at Elan City Apartments. And although it’s hard to generalize how all claims are handled, as each case is unique and with individual circumstances, Allstate is working closely with each of our customers to resolve any claims promptly and fairly.
Our hearts go out to those affected by this tragic event. The incident remains under investigation, and until we can enter the site, it’s very difficult to determine to what extent our insured members have been impacted.
The state can help, too.
The Texas Department of Insurance tells the CBS 11 I-Team this is a very “unique” situation.
It says call its consumer line, 1-800-252-3439, where you will be assigned to a specialist to look into your specific claim.