Plaza Towers Apartments in downtown Grand Rapids is a luxury high-rise community. Photo via fb.com
Next Wednesday, May 8, is the day building officials hope Plaza Towers residents can finally go home.
Residents of the flooded downtown Grand Rapids apartment and condo building have spent 13 unlucky days, as of Thursday, living in local hotels or with family and friends, since their building was evacuated the morning of April 20 — after last month’s record-setting rains and Grand River flooding swamped the building’s basement and parking lot.
“On Friday, residents and their insurance agents may meet at the driveway access gate on Fulton Street, starting at 9 a.m. Because this is a worksite, we will escort groups down to the parking area,” the post states. “Flashlights and waterproof boots are recommended.
"Merl’s Towing Company will have a representative onsite to assist with towing arrangements. Due to the low ceilings, normal towing practices cannot be used and Merl’s has a plan for safe vehicle removal,” the post states.
Grace Johnson, senior manager of operations for Eenhoorn, the company that owns the building, said the re-occupation process has removed all the flooded water out of the building.
Building officials and workers are closely working with the city to get the building re-certified for occupants, she said.
Workers are trying to get the building’s fire protection and electrical systems back up, she said, and if all goes according to plan, residents can move back in on Wednesday.
Social media and crisis communications
Johnson said she has been trying to update residents on the situation twice a day via email and Facebook.
She said Facebook has surprisingly been the best way to reach out to residents and get feedback on concerns and questions.
“This is the first time in our company as a whole where I have seen people relying on social media for information,” Johnson said. “In our industry, we’ve toyed with where to place information, and this has been a crucial, crucial place to get information to them. My experience with this specific event, it has been the best way.”