AP NEWS

Bridgeport condo residents vote to pay flooding damage repairs

May 7, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — Residents of a city condo complex have agreed to cover the $235,000 cost for repairs made after flooding damaged units last September.

“There was a lot of discussion, a lot of anger and they voted to approve it,” said Cartright Towers resident Judith Rudikoff after a meeting of the condo’s residents and members of the condo association’s management last week.

Rudikoff said the vote was 42 approving and 16 against having the residents pay the cost. The vote needed to be a simple majority, so even if 15 proxy votes counted in the polling were against, it still wouldn’t change the outcome.

Rudikoff said she has been told the condo residents must pay for the repairs under certain state statutes.

Now, Rudikoff said, herself and a few others living in the condo are looking into retaining their own lawyer.

On Sept. 25, 2018, between 5 and 7 inches of rain fell across the city in roughly two hours. Some Bridgeport residents said their house foundations cracked, their flooded basements became layered in mud and, in some cases, damage cost tens of thousands of dollars. Some neighboring Fairfield residents suffered a similar fate.

Among the areas hit worst in Bridgeport were Cartright Street, Wallace Court and Renwick Drive.

Eight months later, those living in the affected area said they are still fighting to get back to what they knew as normal. Residents of Cartright Towers, 80 Cartright St., were told they must cover the $235,000 costs that insurance didn’t cover.

The residents of the complex and owners of the condo’s management company, County Management of Trumbull, met last week in the community room of the Trumbull Library to discuss and vote on the payments.

Hearst Connecticut Media was invited to attend last week’s meeting by a condo resident. But while there, attorney Robert Pacelli, who is representing the management company, asked the reporter and other media to leave, saying that despite it being a public space, it was a private gathering where media were not welcome.

When asked if he could be contacted for a comment or statement, Pacelli said he would not provide one.

In Cartright Towers, the flooding affected the basement level of the building — ruining the laundry room, several condo units, the media room/lounge area and the elevator.

Rudikoff said, as far as she knows, most of those problems have been repaired, expect for some damage remaining in the basement-level condo units.

She said meetings began about a month ago, talking about the flooding and who would pay the the cost of repairs.

“They claim they have looked at money in grants and various other places and nothing can help,” she said.

Even the city turned to the state and the federal government for aid after the Sept. 25 downpour. Scott Appleby, director of emergency management and homeland security for the city, and his staff have been fighting to get help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The city saw more than $3 million in damages and six homes were deemed uninhabitable.

On Tuesday, Appleby said he and his staff are working with Congressman Jim Himes’ office, asking FEMA to reconsider denying assistance to Fairfield County. He said nothing has come of that so far.

“We as a City are very frustrated that our home and business owners impacted are not eligible for assistance and are trying to find other avenues to assist if applicable and available,” Appleby said in a prepared statement. “We are still fighting!”

Rudikoff said that there was talk of an additional meeting in the near future about what to do moving forward.

“There’s talk of insurance increases as a possibility, but I don’t know if it’ll happen,” Rudikoff said. “With global warming, there is a great chance that this is going to happen again ... We’re so discouraged by it.”

Rudikoff said she has lived in her condo at Cartright Towers for more than a decade. In all that time, she has never seen anything near what happened on Sept. 25.

“This has never happened before,” she said. “I heard there was a flood years before I moved in, but since I’ve been here, no, nothing like this.”