Emerson Manor residents return home after fire, water damage

HOQUIAM, Wash. -- Elderly and disabled residents are finally back in their Hoquiam apartments after a 26-day evacuation. A fire sounded the alarm several weeks ago, but it was the water forced them out.

The 90-year-old historic building is a welcome sight for the 60 residents who had to get out leaving most everything behind. A small fire in a trash can in a 5th floor apartment was quickly extinguished by the water sprinklers last month, but a maintenance worker mistakenly kept the water flowing.

"It put out the fire and then the water came down the hall," said Sharlyne Blackwell. Water gushed down the walls and into the ceilings and rooms of the floors below.

"When I got up I noticed the holes in the ceiling and the carpet was soaked and there was water on the kitchen floor," said resident Joe Bryant.

The Emerson Manor was so wet it was deemed unsafe. Everybody had to evacuate and stay in motels or with family the past four weeks.

But everyone is back Tuesday. New mattresses and box springs were donated and delivered to ease the transition back for residents such as Joe Bryant and his dog, Smokey.

"Dry and no water damage and I'm happy. Very happy," said Resident Joe Bryant.

"I'm excited to be back home," Blackwell said. "I loved it at my son's house. I got used to it. But it's nothing like home. Absolutely there's no place like home."

A fundraiser for the residents of the Emerson Manor is being Saturday from noon-4 p.m. at the Hoquiam Masonic Ballroom.