NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Dozens of residents living in North Providence’s Canterbury Village spent Tuesday packing up their belongings after being given 24 hours to vacate their condemned condominiums.
“It’s extremely overwhelming,” Canterbury Village resident Yentl Buigos said. “There’s nothing else we can do.”
12 News was there as residents filled their cars to the brim with clothes, furniture and personal items. Others were seen stuffing their belongings into U-Haul trucks lined up outside the building.
The town’s building inspector and fire department initially ordered residents to be out of the building by 3 p.m. Tuesday, but extended that deadline to 8 p.m.
Though numerous residents plan on moving in with friends and family for the time being, others don’t have anywhere else to go.
North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi confirmed that the town has provided accommodations for residents in need of assistance.
The building was condemned Monday afternoon due to the significant damage caused by a pipe that burst months prior. That damage was never addressed by Vista Management, which maintains Canterbury Village, according to Lombardi.
North Providence Assistant Fire Chief John Horan said the building’s condition has deteriorated over time to the point where it is “unlivable” and riddled with safety hazards.
“It looks more like a construction site than [condominiums],” Horan explained. “It’s all about the safety of these residents.”
WATCH: Mayor Charles Lombardi provides update on eviction notice (Story continues below.)
Horan said the town not only uncovered asbestos while inspecting the building, but also discovered that an egress corridors was “severely compromised.”
Lombardi said there are pieces of the ceiling missing, which presents a serious fire hazard.
“It doesn’t take that long for a catastrophe to happen,” Lombardi said, adding that a fire could easily spread throughout the entire building in roughly 15 minutes.
Lombardi said the town decided upon a 24-hour eviction notice to ensure the safety of the residents. He pinned the blame squarely on Vista Management, who he believes should’ve never put their tenants in this situation.
“This isn’t right and it’s not fair, but the town can’t just sit back and allow this to happen,” Lombardi said. “This is for their safety.”
Despite the safety hazards, residents are still frustrated with the town’s decision to suddenly uproot them from their homes.
“I’m disappointed,” Buigos said. “I’m trying to figure out what’s next.”
12 News has attempted to reach out to Vista Management by phone several times regarding the situation but has been unable to connect.