SAN MARCOS, Texas - 162 Texas State students have been displaced and are scrambling for information on next-steps after Vie Lofts, an off campus student apartment complex in San Marcos, failed a building inspection Friday.
"We determined that one of the stairwells and then subsequently a second stairwell were both determined to be unable to be able to be used for emergency evacuation for the residents. There are only three stairwells here, leaving the one remaining stairwell as a means of emergency evacuation from the upper floors was not sufficient to meet the fire code. So, out of an abundance of caution, we made the decision to go ahead and order an evacuation of the building and all of the residents until such time as those issues can be corrected." San Marcos Fire chief, Les Stephens told Fox 7 Austin.
Students recalled a chaotic scene Friday night.
“I was caught just before I left the apartment by an official and he started telling me what was going on and that’s how I found out.“ said resident, Olivia Romero.
“I had found out about it, like officially through the news, after my friend had called me, before I got any email from management and the email didn’t really come until an hour, an hour and a half into the evacuation.” said resident and junior, who asked FOX 7 Austin not to use his name.
Saturday, students struggled to get answers from Vie management.
“It was terrifying, you know. I don’t live here in San Marcos, I’m from Houston, Texas, so it’s, it’s like where the hell do I go. You know — all my friends they’re not here, my parents are not here, so I don’t know what to do” Romero said.
Students, like Romero, were able to meet with representatives of Vie management at the San Marcos Police station. The meeting was set to start at 11 Saturday. But, students told FOX 7 Austin they couldn’t get anyone to talk until after noon.
“I mean I was really expecting them to be here,” said the junior.
Parents, like Kelly Ritchie, who drove from McKinney, Texas to support her son -- a Vie resident, complained that the company did not send anyone with “authority.”
Students were encouraged to stay with friends or family. Those who requested accommodations have been housed at Embassy Suites or the Avenue. Lease or rent concerns, have not been addressed.
“I atone it to a shelter mostly because it’s not home, you know literally no sheets, no towel, no things you would necessarily need to live in a place.” Romero said of her new accomodations.
Saturday afternoon, students were allowed to return to Vie Lofts, to retrieve belongings.
Ritchie, worked to move her son, and several trash bags worth of personal items into The Avenue. When she arrived -- she was shocked to discover, her son, who gives Vie Lofts roughly $850 a month, was being asked to move into an already occupied, unkept apartment.
“It's not at all the level of cleanliness that you would expect for living conditions for your child." she said.
This is all happening during what students tell us is one of the busiest weeks of the year. Students have the option to call a recorded hotline or management — but FOX 7 Austin has not received an answer using the number.
FOX 7 Austin received this statement from co-founder of Vie management Derrick Milam:
“We want to reiterate that the safety of our residents at Vie Lofts at San Marcos is our number one priority. As a parent myself, I completely understand the concerns of other parents and residents and understand the inconvenience this is causing. This decision by the city on Friday took me by surprise as well, as we have passed what we thought were all the proper inspections and have approved paperwork from our engineers showing the structural integrity of our building.
At the earliest time possible on Monday (even if we have to sit on city hall steps and wait for them to open) we will have a meeting with the City of San Marcos for clarification on why this was the only possible outcome on Friday. Our goal is to understand why they expressed safety issues, fix anything they say isn't safe immediately and have all residents back into their homes as soon as possible. If this doesn’t happen in a quick turnaround we will address any lease concerns on a case by case basis. “