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Storm damage worse than thought, Churchill Square tenants displaced for months

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Storm damage worse than thought, Churchill Square tenants displaced for months

People in 64 apartment units in St. John's will have to find temporary shelter for up to nine months, as the damage caused by a severe windstorm continues to be calculated. 

Tenants in Churchill Square Apartments were first told that they would need to move for a short while, because of wind and water damage to their building, and Monday's news came as a shock to some.

"This is the first time I'm hearing this ... we really don't know what's going to happen," said Bandhan Mukherjee, who is pursuing doctoral studies in neuroscience at nearby Memorial University, while his wife completes a PhD in psychology. 

The couple's apartment is not damaged, although it has no power and they've lost their food.

Mukherjee, who had emergency shelter in a university residence, believed he would be home by Tuesday, but now he is looking at weeks.

Representatives with Martek, which manages the apartment complex, called other tenants over the weekend to tell them the building will need extensive renovations, the worst cases needing an estimated nine months to repair. 

"In the beginning, we are thinking Martek is a huge company so they should arrange some places [to stay] because they have all the residential places and things like that,"  Mukherjee told CBC News. 

"So we were hoping, 'OK they will arrange something,' but that is not the case. So, if it's two to three months, I don't know how we are going to manage."

High winds on March 11 had ripped off part of the roof of the building. Subsequent temporary repairs did not hold, allowing water to pour into some units. 

No compensation

Charlie Oliver, chief executive officer of Martek, said units in the centre block of the apartment complex will need to be torn back to the studs and completely rebuilt.

Other apartments are in better shape. However, it will still take at least a couple of months to complete inspections and get the central heating system working again.

Oliver said tenants will need to rely on their own insurance to cover extra costs, and that the company will not be providing compensation.

"It's the tenants' responsibilities to deal with it in case of fire and or water damage, as we're experiencing," Oliver said.

While he said many of the tenants he's talked to do have insurance, Mukherjee told CBC News he and his wife did not even know it was available to them.

Tenants were told they'll get their damage deposit back and rent returned for the period of time they were evacuated from their apartments.