TAMPA, Fla. — UPDATE (7/26): The owners of the Element Apartment Tower in Tampa said they are aiming to welcome back residents Monday, July 26, pending approval from the City Fire Chief and Construction Services Manager.
However, the Fire Rescue Captain said Element has not proved the building is ready for tenant occupancy yet.
Crews have been working around the clock since July 6 when a water line broke and water flooded the hallways.
Since then, residents have been staying in hotels. Element said residents whose apartments were more severely impacted by water damage and cannot return have been contacted.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Emergency crews responded to downtown Tampa's Element residential tower Friday morning due to flooding concerns.
Tampa Fire Rescue responded just after 3:30 a.m. to the 35-story tower residence on north Franklin Street and found significant flooding inside the building but no sign of fire.
What You Need To Know
- Tampa police and fire rescue crews responded to the 35-story tower around 3:30 a.m.
- Every floor from the 27th and below was affected by the flooding
- A breach in the main water supply line caused the flooding
Crews inspected every floor and found a break in the main water supply line inside the building.
Water pipe breaks on the 12th and 27th floors, appeared to be the source of the flooding. Every floor from the 27th and below was affected by the flooding. Floors between the 28th and 35th were unaffected by the water damage.
Officials said one person was trapped inside an elevator that had stopped working due to the flooding. That person was a member of the building security team and was safely removed from the elevator by firefighters.
One firefighter sustained a minor injury. There were no other injuries reported at the scene.
As the morning went on, evacuated residents waited outside the tower awaiting word to return to their units.
"Yeah, definitely, that was one thing me and the residents talked about," said 23rd floor resident Taylor Bensley. "When the alarms went off, our first thought was what happened in Miami, and that scared us a bit. Once the police came in and we were reassured, we were okay."
For Colton Haggerty, his dog Ranger, and everyone else living at the Element Tampa apartment building, the morning was a rush.
“The fire department came and knocked on our door and said we had to evacuate. Headed toward the stairs, was coming down and then on floor 14, there was just water all in the stairwells and walking through water and puddles as we were going down,” said Haggerty.
People living at the complex shared videos with us of what they faced when told to evacuate, and when they headed back inside hours later to grab medicine, clothes, and whatever they could.
From the 35 floors of units, from kids to elderly, every person has a story.
“I woke up at about 5:30 to this going off in my room. I called my neighbor to try and figure out what was going on, grabbed my puppy, my phone, and left,” said tenant Taylor Bensley.
Inspectors from the fire marshal's office made a full assessment, along with building management, of the building's infrastructure systems.
Building management is making efforts to find rooms for residents at local hotels.