CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Attorneys representing the former tenants of a condemned Cranston apartment building called a news conference Friday to give an update on “the plight of those impacted.”
One of the buildings at Dean Estates on Oaklawn Avenue was flooded out during a storm on Sept. 10, forcing the residents of 24 units from their homes.
The residents claim the owners and managers were negligent in maintaining the property, misrepresented its condition, and weren’t compassionate enough in the aftermath of the disaster.
Attorneys from the law office of Schreiber & Schreiber said they’re not filing a lawsuit yet, but rather hope they’ll be able to negotiate with the owners and managers.
Watch their full news conference below.
A spokesperson for Winn Management released a statement to 12 News in response to the attorneys’ claims, saying their news release “contains several false statements.”
“Since the September 10 flooding, we have been working to clean up damage and make repairs, where possible, and to keep the storm drains on the property clear in advance of rainy forecasts,” the statement said. “The flooding was caused by unusual torrential downpours, which overwhelmed nearby storm drains located off property.
“Unfortunately, access to damaged apartments continues to be prohibited for safety reasons at the direction of the Cranston Building Department,” the spokesperson continued. “We sympathize with residents whose lives were disrupted by this unfortunate natural disaster, and we appreciate how the Cranston community has stepped up to help them.”
The owners previously said it appeared that a state-owned storm drain located behind the building wasn’t able to handle the torrential rainfall that day. The R.I. Department of Transportation (RIDOT) told 12 News it would replace the drains, but also noted that the building was constructed below ground level, making it susceptible to flooding.
“It took decades of neglect to get here, it will take decades to remedy this,” RIDOT spokesperson Charles St. Martin said.
After the flooding, representatives for the property’s owners said the affected tenants were refunded for that month’s rent and given back their security deposits, along with $500 Visa gift cards.
The American Red Cross also responded to help the victims. On Friday, the Red Cross said caseworkers “met with families to provide immediate assistance and develop longer-term recovery plans” in the days after the flood.