Cavalier residents told to leave by Sept. 23

Mecklenburg County officials want to move all residents out of the Cavalier Apartments by Sept. 23 – months earlier than originally planned – after last week's flooding left the majority of units at the complex unsafe to live in.

More than 80 percent of Cavalier units will be empty within a week, Storm Water Services Director Dave Canaan told county commissioners on Wednesday.

In the meantime, Canaan said officials are continuing to look into how some residents were left without insurance coverage, and who is responsible.

The county purchased the east Charlotte apartment complex in June for $9.6 million as part of a plan to demolish flood-prone structures.

Leaders were in the process of relocating Cavalier residents when the complex was flooded again – this time after the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay dumped several inches of rain in Charlotte last week.

The flooding left 96 units at the east Charlotte complex uninhabitable. Canaan said at the peak of the flooding there was 18 to 50 inches of water in the lower units.

In addition, water damaged breaker boxes on the property, leaving all but 12 of the complex's 192 units without electricity. In addition, there is no air conditioning in the units that do have power.

The county, which plans to demolish the apartment complex next year, has no plans to replace either the breakers or air conditioning system, Sharon Foote, spokeswoman for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services.

“It would not be cost-effective to use county dollars … to restore electricity to an apartment complex that is being torn down,” Foote said in an interview before the commissioners meeting.

As part of the deal to buy the Cavalier apartments, the county received money to help residents find a new place to stay. The county had planned to move residents out over the coming months, but has expedited the process after the flood.

As of noon Wednesday, the county had written checks to 110 of the 136 families who were still at Cavalier, Canaan said. The residents had one week to move after receiving the check.

When the county purchased Cavalier, it offered $10,000 in flood insurance coverage to all residents. But shortly after the floods, many residents said they were told by The Hartford insurance company that their applications hadn't yet cleared a 30-day waiting period and their belongings wouldn't be covered – even though some residents said they had turned in their paperwork earlier this summer.

County officials originally said the problem affected 10 residents, but said Wednesday they believe up to 30 people are having trouble. Commissioners chairman Jennifer Roberts said that if the county is at fault for the delay in processing the insurance policies, “the county will treat those folks as though they were insured.”

Some residents spoke out at Wednesday's meeting.

“We're not looking for a handout,” said Christopher Jeannot. “We're hard-working people … We want the insurance policy that we signed up for weeks, maybe months ago.”