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Garage Collapse Still Keeping Hackensack Renters From Homes

A garage collapsed in Hackensack on July 16, 2010.  (credit: CBS)

A garage collapsed in Hackensack on July 16, 2010. (credit: CBS)

NEW YORK (CBS) – There’s another huge setback for residents of a Hackensack apartment building where a parking garage suddenly collapsed earlier this month.

For nearly two weeks, they’ve been stuck living with family or friends and in hotels. Now, residents just round out they won’t be able to move back in for months.

“Living in a hotel is not my cup of tea,” resident Luann Novotny said. “Eating out every day, and the dog, it’s been a pain in the neck.”

Novotny has been living in a Hilton Hotel since the garage collapse on July 16, and the owners of the Prospect Towers have found her a temporary apartment she’ll hopefully be able to move into this weekend.

She and other residents are relieved to finally be getting some answers about when they can likely move back to their homes. Right now, the Hackensack city manager says that date is November 15th. He says removing debris from the parking garage and ordering equipment are taking longer than expected, but he and the management company are confident the building is structurally safe.

“There’s nothing that shows us that there should be any reason for concern about safety on this building or any other building,” City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said. “We’ve been doing some inspections, and we’re gathering some engineering information on all the buildings in the area.”

Meanwhile, families have been allowed back into their apartments for short intervals to gather what they can. Edna Cirone is also in a hotel with her husband and two dogs.

“Yes, it’s somewhat difficult, but it could’ve been a lot worse,” Cirone said.

Cirone says she’s looking forward to moving back in, and the toughest part is not being able to take care of her 93-year-old father, as she did before the collapse.

“I was helping my sister take care of my father, who has Alzheimer’s, and for a while I just can’t get over there to help her out,” Cirone said. “That’s been the biggest change in my lifestyle, not being able to help my sister take care of my father.”

While Nov. 15 is the earliest families may get to move back into their homes, city officials say that is just an estimate, and there’s always a chance that deadline may move into next year.

As the building owner tries to find residents temporary apartments, the company is also paying for hotels and food.

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