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Scottish Towers dwellers can't go home yet

A day after Hurricane Jeanne peeled part of the roof away from the Scottish Towers II Apartments, about 135 residents were still wondering when they will be able to return home.

Dunedin Fire Rescue condemned the Scottish Towers II Apartments on Sunday, ordering a mandatory evacuation. Some of the residents who came to the complex Monday were turned away.

Division Fire Chief Chris Bengivengo said he had no idea when residents would be able to return. Engineers must assess each of the 188 units to determine whether they are safe.

"There's just so many things that could potentially happen," he said. "A gust of wind could come and blow more roofing off. It really is in their best interest that they are not in that hazard."

Janet Anderson, regional property manager for the Goodman Group, the owner of the complex, said Monday that residents could come to the apartments to retrieve some of their belongings and check their mail, but only during the day. The power remains off.

She said the damage inside appears to be minimal.

"The fortunate news is that we have concrete decking," Anderson said. "We have very little water damage as far as apartments go. We need to concentrate on rebuilding, meeting with insurance, contractors and cleaning things up and getting back to business."

Fire officials evacuated the complex about 5:30 p.m. About 50 residents were taken to First United Methodist Church in Tarpon Springs. Another 73 stayed with family or friends.

Some complained that they did not have time to grab their medication and a change of clothes. Bengivengo said the evacuation was considered urgent.

"I'm trying to get back to get my medication," said Maryanne Reardon, who was staying at the shelter. "I thought this was a one night deal. I don't even have a change of bandages for my diabetic infection."

The Scottish Towers II Apartments and Scottish Condominiums were built by the same developer in the 1970s but are under different ownership and management. The buildings do not have the same roofing system.

The apartments suffered the most damage of any building in the area, Bengivengo said. More of the roof from the Scottish Towers condominiums was also ripped off. Those condos lost part of their roof during Frances, exposing 40 units to pelting rain.

The Goodman Group based in Minnesota had replaced parts of the apartment roof four years ago, but the actual roof was much older than that, Anderson said. She was not sure exactly how old the roof was.

"We just did some improvements to the building that really helped the aesthetics," she said. "We were excited about the condition of the property. To see it like this is devastating."

Ida Paul, a resident, said she heard a loud noise about 2 p.m Sunday. When she looked outside, she saw the roof peeling away. Part of it flapped over the front door of her fourth floor apartment.

"I thought my roof was caving in," said the 81-year-old who called 911. "It was just awful. I grabbed a few things. Afterwards, you say, "Why didn't I take this, why didn't I take that?' "

Repairs on the condo roof were expected to begin Monday but could be delayed because of the new damage, said Lester Gates, treasurer of the condo owners association.

"This looks familiar," said Gates, as he surveyed the fallen roof in the courtyard. "This was more of the the section that was going to be taken down. We'll let them clean it up."

Gates said the entire roof is being removed, rather than a new roof being put over an old one like the last time.

But now there is another problem.

About 70 percent of the people in the condos are seasonal residents and gave permission to the displaced residents to use their condos as temporary housing. But some of those seasonal residents will be returning in the next couple of months.

"We don't know where people are going to be able to go," said B.J. Star, a resident who suffered damage from both storms. "It's been tough."

Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or

CLEARING AWAY DAMAGE: Walter Kloss, of Dunedin, right, and Monte Gornto, of Dunedin, take apart an awning Monday that was knocked down by winds from Hurricane Jeanne at the Oak Bend Mobile Home Park in Dunedin. Scores of mobile homes were damaged, but they were still livable, police said.

Joanne Miller, a resident of Scottish Towers II, examines damage to the roof. Miller will stay with friends until her unit, which was damaged by water, can be repaired.

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