Hancock County

Bay St. Louis apartment building collapses

As Christmas approaches, several families are facing an uncertain future after part of a Bay St. Louis apartment building collapsed on Thursday.

Bay St. Louis Fire Chief Monty Strong said Thursday the fire department received a report of a partial collapse at the Waverly apartments on Old Nicholson Road at about 4 a.m.

Apparently, Strong said, part of the concrete on the bottom level collapsed near the staircase.

Several upstairs residents were unable to get downstairs, officials said.

Strong said rescuers helped at least one person down to the bottom floor and helped to make sure the building was secure.

Later on Thursday, the Bay St. Louis building department posted signs on the building stating that the structure was unsafe and that nobody was allowed to be inside.

City Building official Charles Oliver said Friday that nobody will be allowed to live in the apartments until after an assessment is conducted on Monday.

“The apartment complex is sending an engineer to meet with us and our city engineer,” Oliver said. “After that, we will have a better idea of what needs to happen. Right now, it's not safe.”

Oliver said the apartment complex was renovated after Hurricane Katrina, but it was last inspected prior to his tenure, which began in 2010.

The building, Number 16, is part of a larger housing community which includes several eight-unit housing complexes.

None of the other buildings collapsed or have shown any immediate threat of doing so, officials said.

It is unclear how many units in the damaged building were occupied.

One resident, who asked not to be identified said the apartment company first offered to get tenants rooms at the Hollywood casino, but on Friday, they were offered a temporary apartment elsewhere in the complex.

"It's a lot of uncertainly," one man said. "They told us to call the Red Cross because it may be two months."

Attempts to reach apartment management were unsuccessful by press time Friday.

This story originally appeared in the Sea Coast Echo.