Shocking photos reveal cracks inside Iowa apartment building before horror collapse
By Rachel Sharp,2023-05-30
Shocking photos have revealed how huge cracks were developing in the walls of an apartment building in Davenport , Iowa , in the weeks before its sudden collapse – as questions continue to mount about whether residents should have been moved from the treacherous structure long ago.
Aurea Monet lived in a studio in the six-storey apartment building for around seven months, moving out just eight weeks before the block partially collapsed on Sunday.
In a series of TikTok videos, she revealed that her apartment was one of the units that totally crumpled that day – pointing out what used to be her kitchen fully exposed after the remaining walls had fallen away.
Ms Monet says that she broke the lease on the rental unit and moved out after noticing huge cracks on both the inside and outside wall of her apartment.
The cracks started to develop after construction work began on the property, she says.
Photos show a small crack close to the power socket on a wall near a window.
Horrifying images then show the same crack sometime later, having spread and expanded across the wall.
A photo from outside the property shows the huge crack also visible on the exterior wall.
In the video, Ms Monet says “they started construction a while back and during that time I noticed a crack above my outlet”.
She says it was “much smaller at first” but then the crack “progressed over my time being there”.
Besides the crack on the wall, she says there was also a repeated drainage issue in her apartment.
She says she reported the issue multiple times but it was repeatedly ignored.
When someone came to look at the pipe once, it solved the issue for about a month but then it started happening again, she says.
She later learned that water from her bathtub was actually draining into the apartment below, she says.
She only found out when someone moved in to the apartment and came to her in tears.
“She reported it too, nothing happened, nothing was fixed,” she says.
“After that, the crack got bigger and I decided it was time to go.”
Ms Monet says that when she sent a letter explaining why she wanted to break the lease, the property management denied the issues.
While she had a lucky escape, she feels the entire horror collapse was totally avoidable.
“Honestly the whole thing truly could have been avoided if for the fact that they were not continuing to keep moving people in while literal units were being condemned for not passing inspections, not being safe,” she says.
It is not yet clear what caused Sunday’s collapse – which began when the back of the apartment building, known as The Davenport, detached from the rest of the building.
However, residents had filed numerous complaints about issues with the building in the lead-up to the disaster.
Last year, almost 20 permits were filed, mainly for plumbing or electrical issues, according to the Associated Press .
The last permit for the building was filed on 2 March 2 and had “misc” listed in the description.
On Tuesday, officials finally admitted that up to five residents were still missing following the collapse of the six-story apartment building – after previously claiming there were no credible reports of missing people and making plans to demolish the block while people could still be trapped inside.
Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said at a press conference that five people are still unaccounted for including two who are believed to still be in the partially-collapsed building.
“The Davenport Police Department has been working diligently to account for the [residents] of the building,” he said.
“Five individuals are still unaccounted for, two of those we believe to possibly be still in the building.”
The identities of the missing have not been released but the revelation comes after desperate neighbours, locals and loved ones have been trying to raise the alarm about two men thought to be in the building at the time of the collapse.
Branden Colvin and Ryan Hitchcock have not been seen since the building suddenly collapsed at around 5pm on Sunday.
Despite their whereabouts being unknown, officials had called off rescue efforts just 24 hours later on Monday – and then planned to demolish the building on Tuesday morning.
Residents protested the demolition plans – fearing that residents could still be trapped inside – and, for now, the city appears to have put them on hold.
The city announced in a press release on Tuesday morning that it was “continually evaluating the timing of the demolition” of the building.
“Demolition is a multi-phase process that includes permitting and staging of equipment that will begin today,” the city said.
“The timing of the physical demolition of the property is still be(ing) evaluated. The building remains structurally insecure and in imminent danger of collapse.”
The delay came after a ninth person was rescued from the rubble on Monday afternoon – after officials had already said the rescue mission had moved to a “recovery operation”.
Lisa Brooks was pulled to safety from the fourth floor of the building after she managed to call her daughter who then alerted authorities to her mother’s whereabouts.
Dramatic footage captured firefighters rescuing her with a bucket ladder before she was taken to hospital for evaluation.
Ms Brooks’ great granddaughter Pauletta Joeanna told The Independent on Monday evening that her great grandmother lived in apartment 403 in the building and was on the phone with another relative when she seemed to suddenly hang up.
That was the same time that the building collapsed.
Ms Joeanna told The Independent on Tuesday that her great grandmother heard people yelling her name.
“She’s at home, she’s fine now. She had passed out under the couch and the only reason she woke up it’s because we were yelling her name. Now we’re looking for Branden,” she said.
Indeed, Ms Brooks’ rescue has led to growing calls from locals not to pull the building down until further searches are carried out for those still missing.
Local officials say they need to pull the building down due to its instability, making it unsafe for the wider public.
“The necessity to demolish this building stems specifically from our desire to maintain as much safety for the surrounding areas as possible,” Rich Oswald, the director of development and neighborhood services in Davenport, told CNN .