Archive for Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A month later, Aberdeen residents still waiting to enter their burned apartments

Jennifer Goode, with her dog Louie, left, and Kim Springer lost their apartments in the fire at Aberdeen South in October. Residents still haven’t been allowed in the apartments to get personal items and other belongings.

Jennifer Goode, with her dog Louie, left, and Kim Springer lost their apartments in the fire at Aberdeen South in October. Residents still haven’t been allowed in the apartments to get personal items and other belongings.

November 11, 2009


A month later, Aberdeen residents still waiting to enter their burned apartments

As Jennifer Goode stares at the large hole that flames left in the roof of her Aberdeen South apartment building last month, she figures the chances that her childhood blanket is still intact are between slim and none, but she'd like to know for sure. Enlarge video

The blanket is gone. Surely, it is gone.

As Jennifer Goode stares at the large hole that flames left in the roof of her Aberdeen South apartment building last month, she figures the chances that her childhood blanket is still intact are between slim and none.

But she would like to know for sure.

Goode is among at least three victims of the Oct. 8 fire that have been forced to wait and wonder whether the early-morning blaze left any bits and pieces from their old lives.

Five weeks after the fire, Goode and many of her neighbors have not been allowed by Aberdeen officials to enter their old apartments for any amount of time to survey the scene and collect belongings.

“I had that blanket since I was born,” said Goode, a college student who lived at the complex with her sister. “It probably wasn’t salvageable. But even if I could have just taken it and put it in a box, I don’t know, just to have it.

“What I really wish is that I could just get some closure on the whole thing.”

A few answers also would be good, residents said.

A manager with Aberdeen South read a short statement when asked about the situation by the Journal-World: “Our residences’ safety is our priority,” local manager Nason Kloppenborg read. “We have worked closely with all parties involved to ensure that the victims of the fire are allowed entry at the safest and earliest time.”

Kloppenborg declined to answer other questions.

But residents said they have been told by the company that the delay is being caused by Aberdeen South’s need to create a legal waiver for residents to sign, in order for the apartment company to not be held liable if residents are injured while retrieving the items.

Some residents are having a hard time believing that it has taken more than a month for the company to come up with such a document. Aberdeen South, according to its Web site, is operated by Campus Apartments — the largest privately owned student housing company in the nation, which has been in business since 1958.

“I have a hard time believing they’ve never had to deal with an apartment being damaged before,” said Darin Brunin, whose apartment also was destroyed in the fire. “You would think they would already have a plan in place to deal with something like this.”

The apartment building — which caught fire after being struck by lighting — had eight units, and at least six were occupied at the time. Three residents have told the Journal-World they have not been allowed back in since the fire. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the other residents also had been barred from entering.

“It is very frustrating because I know there is stuff in there that could have been salvaged even just a couple of weeks ago,” said Kim Springer, who said she was the only one of the fire victims who had renter’s insurance.

But the apartment complex’s roof is largely gone, which means all the units have been exposed to the weather. That has dimmed the hopes of residents that there will be anything left to save.

“It sure seems like it has rained a ton, lately,” said Brunin. “Every time it rains, you get depressed because you get a picture in your mind of certain items just getting soaked.”

The building has been surrounded with a chain link fence to keep people out. Fire department officials reported shortly after the blaze that the building would be turned back over to the property owners because much of the interior of the structure was not damaged by fire, but rather suffered smoke, water and debris damage.

Residents did say that Aberdeen officials treated them well in the hours following the fire. All three said they were quickly put in other Aberdeen apartments. They continue to live there.

Information on when the burned building may be demolished or rebuilt wasn’t available Wednesday afternoon. In the meantime, the fire victims see it and wonder.

“It is extremely hard,” Goode said. “There are days that I cry, there are days that I get mad, days that I just laugh about it. It has been a whole grieving process, and it has been tough because I’m reminded everyday that I can’t get in there.”


wakarusan 8 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

quarterlyanswer 8 years, 6 months ago

yeah these are the same guys who own alvadora and let me tell you that they are horrible at working with their tenants on just about everything from fixing problems in your apartment to resolving issues around getting your deposit back. they love to just push people off and hope they go away.

persevering_gal 8 years, 6 months ago

I've always had good service with them quarterlyanswer. I met Jenny during the fire. I really hope this poor girl and the rest of the people living in these apartments can get in sometime soon. It's not the management that's the problem, it's the Campus Apartments that they have to go through that's the problem.

Reuben Turner 8 years, 6 months ago

hopefully y'all will be able to go in and get what can be got. and for those who didn't have insurance, i hope that this is a learning lesson; insurance is important.

mdrndgtl 8 years, 6 months ago

Finally, an thought-provoking article in the LJWorld. Well done, Chad.

LadyJ 8 years, 6 months ago

I guess a lawyer could argue that they did not take adequate measures to safeguard your possessions during the time they denied access. If stuff was still usable after the fire but not now, they should have to reimburse you. They might be able to charge them with deprivation of property. I say, contact a lawyer and find out what your rights are.

LadyJ 8 years, 6 months ago

The housing department out at the United Way helps tenants with legal questions, they are great. Give them a call, they know the tenant-landord laws inside out.

jsmith325 8 years, 6 months ago

Unsure if any of you have ever had an experience like this, but it certainly took time for our re-lease to happen and several insurance personnell from the apartment complex I lived in and the residents insurance personnell too. This is common when dealing with insurance, aside from legal issues. Not to mention I heard that the owners of Aberdeen provided monetary donations to all residents affected by the fire, as well as furniture to all and had apartments and furniture to everyone at the place within three or four hours of the fire. Let me tell you - i had to stay with friends, hotel and then had to go sign another legal document at another apartment complex. I wish this group was handling my situation when it happened. Too many people have spoken out of line on this article and it annoys me to know that so many people either have not experienced it or could have experienced worse. Either the day of or day after or 5 weeks later, lets face the facts that this was a total loss in the first place. It is a similar experience to loosing a death in the family, but you do have brighter days ahead.

jsmith325 8 years, 6 months ago

Forgot to clarify a question?

Wasn't this an act of GOD?

jlg2409 8 years, 6 months ago

We've seen pictures from the inside and there were plenty of things and clothes that were salvageable. Now they have been rained on for a month and are probably growing mold. And I'm pretty sure God didn't decide to burn my house down. So thanks for that insensitive thought.

Danielle Brunin 8 years, 6 months ago


The thing is, when there is a fire such as this, people have the impression that everything inside burns. Because Lawrence has a fairly kick@ss Fire Department they put out the fire quickly and most of the stuff is simply smoke and water damaged. Obviously, electronics and things such as sofas and matresses are toast due to smoke and water, but a lot of things like clothes and keepsakes can be salvaged and washed with borax laundry detergent or cleaned. Because of the negligence of Aberdeen, a lot of things that could have been salvaged will not be able to be. So yes, the building is a total loss, but not necessarily the items inside.

vinividivici 8 years, 6 months ago


Lightening hitting the complex is considered an "act of god" because its nobody's fault. Its an insurance term, not someone trying to make you feel bad. I agree with whoever suggested you getting a lawyer, because the delayed re-entry to take inventory of your possessions, if delayed for the wrong reasons, could give you a case.

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 6 months ago

A childhood blanket? Get real people. You gotta move on.

AteenLKS 8 years, 6 months ago

Damage from rain? Let's be honest people...anything that survived hundreds of gallons of water being pumped in PER MINUTE by the fire department probably wasn't destroyed by a little rain. Seek a lawyer if you want to but your case for conversion or even trespass to chattels would be impossible to substantiate as you have no idea what the conditions of the objects were post-fire had you been let in immediately. Don't get all sue-happy because you made the gamble of not buying renter's insurance.

JhawkJess88 8 years, 6 months ago


Until you lose everything that you own, I suggest you stop giving people advice about what's important to them. The electronics, furniture, utensils, bedding, etc. can all be replaced with time. It's the sentimental items (like a blanket someone's Grandmother made for them as a newborn) that can never be replaced and that mean the most. She mentioned other things during the interview but they decided to put the part about the blanket in the article because they knew that it meant alot to her. Please think before you speak. You really don't understand.

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