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‘I’m just stressed’: Birchwood Terrace residents trying to figure out what’s next after evacuation order last week

Tenants from Birchwood Terrace are in limbo as many of them are in temporary accommodations and not sure when they’ll be allowed back in the building to pick up the rest of their lives.

The city ordered an evacuation last week for the Portage Avenue building over concerns it could collapse.

Currently, a number of those residents are staying with friends, family or in hotels, but their stays have time limits, leaving some wondering where they will go next.

“I’m looking at all the things that I have. I’m looking at my cat and wondering how are we going to survive,” said former resident Doreen Amadatsu.

Amadatsu was one of the 250 tenants forced out of the apartment building. She is currently staying in a hotel room paid for by the Red Cross, but only last until May 20.

After that, she doesn’t know what she’ll do.

“I’m just so stressed. When I’m alone, when I send my son and my daughter-in-law home, I just cry. I can’t sleep.”

On top of this, she and other tenants say insurance is not covering expenses.

For those who had to leave furniture and other belongings behind, there is no timeline on when they could get back in.

“I walked into chaos,” said Tania Morgan. “I entered the building, and everybody is scrambling and crying and shouting.”

Morgan said in that chaos, she forgot to grab mementos her mom left for her before she passed away.

Morgan has been able to find a suite through a friend for a few months, but she wants to know why the issues with the building weren’t found sooner.

“At some point, just like an elevator, should stuff be inspected or checked?”

Amadatsu voiced a similar concern.

“Any old building that is built in the 1960s 70s or 80s, should have mandatory inspections to make sure that they’re safe and inhabitable,” she said.

The city said it does not do routine structural inspections of these buildings, noting it’s the owner’s responsibility.

On Friday, property owner Ladco said it had gone above and beyond to maintain the building over the decades and that the deterioration was not visible, as it was covered by plaster and cement. The company noted the problems were only found after a column appeared to be damaged.

“We care about the tenants. We did not want this to be an issue. We are thankful we found it,” said Henry Borger, the vice president of Residential Properties, on Friday.

The city said the building owner will let tenants know if they are able to get in, but at this time, there is no one allowed back.

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