44 low-income seniors at hotel after sewage back-up in their building

Around 50 low-income seniors in Oakley are still waiting to go home after a backed-up sewage line at their apartment complex prompted an emergency evacuation. The residents at Oak Grove Senior Terrace are currently being housed by building management at several area hotels while safety checks are completed.

"I’m just tired, because I’m not used to not being at home," said resident Gloria Kehler, who is being housed at the Hampton Inn in Brentwood.

"This is very upsetting for everyone," added resident Jackie Rider.

Contra Costa Fire was called to the building on Sunday morning, which was temporarily red tagged after a tub in a vacant apartment was discovered overflowing with sewage water.

"I wanted to throw up," said Rider. "I mean, and the smell was horrible."

"I saw the pictures, and thought I was going to pass out, it was so awful," said Kehler.

Building management said a clogged wastewater line caused the back-up.

"They opened the electrical room, and that’s where they found it was dripping with water," said Kehler.

Power to the building was temporarily shut down. Residents, escorted by building management, were allowed to briefly return to their apartments on Monday to retrieve some of their belongings.

"I got to go in 10 minutes today to pick up stuff. Initially, since it was red tagged, we could not go back in. They’ve been very, very helpful letting us in," said Kehler.

According to residents, this is not the first time the building has faced maintenance issues.

"They’ve had mold, real bad mold in an apartment in our building," said Rider. "Roaches in another building, so bad, that we were in the newspaper for that one."

"They’re slow on repairs," added Kehler.

For now, building management said it was housing residents at three area hotels free of charge and with free meals. The complex said it was also providing partial credit towards their June rent and a $300 cash card to reimburse residents for spoiled food. A round-the-clock security service is monitoring their apartments while they're away.       

In the meantime, volunteers from the community have staged a donation drive.

"Everything started pouring in, even more than we can use," said Jamie Clee, whose mother lives in the building. "Food, pet supplies, water, clothes."

In a statement to KTVU, Oakley City Council Member Anissa Williams said, "The city is aware of the incident and has been on scene since yesterday. People will not be moved back in until the city is reassured that the building is safe and sanitary. The mayor and vice mayor have been coordinating with the various donation efforts and ensuring that the people displaced are being cared for and have access to everything they need. We will continue this effort throughout the process and are not relaxing on our standards."

Rider said a group of residents were planning to voice their concerns about the building at an Oakley City Council meeting-on Tuesday night. 

The building's management said it was hoping to move residents back into the complex by Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.