Residents at Bemidji apartment complex evacuate after building deemed unsafe

Residents at a Bemidji apartment complex were forced to evacuate Thursday after the building was deemed unsafe to live in due to structural issues. 

Residents at Red Pine Estates were given less than a week’s notice to move out of their homes and don’t know if, or when, they’ll be allowed to return. 

"Certainly, nobody expected this to happen. It happened very, very quickly in terms of us becoming aware of the structural issues there," said Mayor Jorge Prince. 

However, many residents who lived in the complex for years are elderly or disabled and don’t have anywhere to go. They shared their frustrations about the sudden evacuation at a city council meeting on Monday. 

"Suddenly, I feel like, when did it come to hating living in a community that I love? But I'm watching people be given options to move to Minot, North Dakota. To leave their support, to leave their community. What are we doing?" one resident said. 

The city's building inspector says the issue started with a rental complaint last week, leading to the first visit to the building. Inside, they found a second-floor unit had flooded, leading to issues with the floor and ceiling above and below it. Structural engineers were so concerned they didn't want anyone else coming into the building to help with the evacuation.

The Rally for Red Pine Facebook group says a lot still needs to be done as residents pack up their homes. A GoFundMe to help pay for temporary housing has raised more than $9,000.