Evacuated residents return to damaged Austin apartment complex

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by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

kvue.com

Posted on October 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 12 at 7:16 AM

AUSTIN -- Behind the caution tape, past the chain link barricade, is the building that has sat empty since Tuesday night. Jose Reyes stood outside Thursday. He was one of 50 people evacuated for the past two days, trading his home for a Motel 6.

"We stayed at that hotel," said Reyes. "We can't cook anything, we have to buy fast food everyday."

Thursday came with a deadline.

Every hotel from Austin to San Antonio was booked through ACL weekend. The families' only option was to get back inside the home they left from a near collapse.

"It buckled but it didn't give so we were real fortunate there," said property manager Boone Nerren.

Nerren credits the problem to an aging foundation and suspect supports.

Contractors spent the last two days addressing the building's biggest concerns. The balcony crack residents heard Tuesday night is now fully reinforced with new materials, hoping to bring residents a little bit more peace of mind.

A final check by engineers finally brought the words the Reyes family needed.

"I come bearing great news," said Nerren as he walked up to a crowd of residents. "People can move back in."

Shouts of 'bravo' and clapping went into the air. All but three units have been deemed safe to live in. The three families still waiting for repairs were given identical housing in unoccupied apartment units. A result embraced by all.

"It feels good to be moving back into my house," said Reyes.

Officials anticipate further repairs should be complete by the end of next week.

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