70 units evacuated after rains flood Northampton apartment complex

  • Kelsea and Joe Vieu with their bearded dragon, Duncan, wait for a friend to pick them up after the apartment complex where they live at 20 Hampton Ave. in Northampton was flooded by rain Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Joe Vieu watches people come go after the apartment complex  20 Hampton Ave. in Northampton where he lives with Kelsea Vieu, their cat, and Duncan, a bearded dragon, was flooded by rain Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Jon Davine talks about flooding at 20 Hampton Ave. Monday morning that displaced many of its tenents. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kelsea Vieu holds Duncan, a bearded dragon, while waiting for a friend to pick them up after the apartment complex 20 Hampton Ave. in Northampton where she lives was flooded by rain Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kelsea Vieu holds Duncan, a bearded dragon, while waiting for a friend to pick them up after the apartment complex at 20 Hampton Ave. in Northampton where she lives was flooded by rain Monday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Justice Harding holds Boots while Josh Egler follows behind with Spazz and Tripod, their three cats, all displaced by flooding at 20 Hampton Ave. due to heavy rain Monday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff writer
Published: 6/14/2021 4:10:26 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Torrential rain caused the Hampton Court Apartments to flood on Monday morning, forcing residents of more than 70 units to evacuate.

A drainage pipe on the roof at 20 Hampton Ave. became disconnected at around 7:30 a.m., said Northampton Fire Chief Jon Davine, and water began pouring into the building, causing an estimated $150,000 in damage.

“We’ve got water damage pretty much from the roof all the way to the basement,” said Davine. “It was coming down the middle of the building, stairwell, elevator. All the drop ceilings are starting to fall down.”

No one was injured. The damage was confined to the south wing of the U-shaped building, but since the electrical and fire alarm systems were “soaked,” Davine said the entire building would be uninhabitable for at least several hours.

The American Red Cross was called in and served lunch to about 30 displaced residents, spokeswoman Mary Nathan said. The school department provided wheelchair-accessible buses to bring displaced residents to the nearby Northampton Senior Center to stay dry, and the police department assisted with the evacuations.

James Gryszan, 71, has lived at Hampton Court for 22 years. Three hours after the flooding started, he sat at the Senior Center talking with his neighbors about the last time the building was hit with a major power outage: the infamous October 2011 snowstorm.

“This is the most horrific thing yet. Even that snowstorm wasn’t as bad as this,” said Gryszan, whose apartment was spared water damage. A decade ago, he was allowed to stay in his unit without power; this time, he was forced to leave.

“Kitty-corner to me, the ceilings are down on beds and floors. Puddles of water. I have nowhere to go. My family is all gone,” he said.

He expects to lose about $700 worth of health food and high-end seafood stored in his freezer.

“The fire department did an amazingly good job, but it’s not like that’s unusual,” said Bob Bernstein. “They’re there to help you. They’re always there.”

“They took me down four flights of stairs,” said Sandy Michel, who uses a walker. She praised the rescuers for making the experience as comfortable as possible.

Kelsea and Joe Vieu live on the second floor, and they said the damage was worst on the three floors above them. Firefighters let them back in briefly to gather their belongings, then the couple waited with their bearded dragon, Duncan, and their cat, Bella, for a friend to pick them up.

“It started with the fire alarm. … There were ceiling tiles all over the second floor. I imagine it’s even worse on the third and fourth,” Joe Vieu said.

“I had planned on sleeping past 7:30,” he said with a chuckle.

A message left with The Schochet Companies, which manages the Hampton Court Apartments, was not immediately returned. A message left with the American Red Cross also was not immediately returned.

The Schochet Companies also manages the 105-unit Weldon House Apartments, a low-income senior housing development at 54 High St. in Greenfield.


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