Sixteen families were displaced Saturday after their apartment complex in St. Petersburg flooded during the morning rain storm.
Tenants at the single-building Lakeview Apartment complex described the chaotic scene as water began pouring in through the roof, flooding the upper floor, then doing the same to many of the lower level units.
"As hard as it was raining outside, that's how as hard as it was raining inside my apartment," said Tonya Robinson, who lives in one of the upper apartments.
"All of a sudden it just started pouring, pouring through the light socket, pouring through the light fixture in the bathroom, the light fixture in the bathroom fell," said Jayson James, who lives with his mother in a unit on the second floor. "It was very scary. Very, very scary."
One of the owners, Aurelijus Baltusis, said they recently purchased the building and closed just two days ago. They knew the roof had been an ongoing problem and already had a contractor begin working on it.
Baltusis said it's hard to say without getting onto the roof if the recent work made the leak temporarily worse, but guessed that might be what's at fault.
"Seriously, it's just probably the worst timing," he said, adding he and his partner will help the tenants as much as possible. "We're just going to evaluate each apartment individually. Whatever is damaged is damaged, so we're just going to go one unit at a time."
Baltusis said roughly 40 people were forced out of the building. Tenants told Fox 13 News St. Pete city leaders came out to the scene and told residents they'd be housed temporarily in a nearby hotel.
Those affected said they'll now focus on how to recover.
"I don't know which way to go right in the present moment but with the grace of God, I'm going to work it out," said tenant Willie Williams.
The owners said they're hoping to re-open the apartments after they've completely dried out and are deemed safe by the city.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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