Owners of Horizon West condo in Waukesha remember building scare a year later

Waukesha, Wis. (CBS 58) — Condo owners were reunited today, exactly one year after police forced them to vacate their Waukesha homes, fearing the building could collapse.

There are forty-eight units inside the Horizon West condos. Residents recall feelings of uncertainty that cold night. Some elderly, some teenagers, home alone–now, with the same formula–a heartbreak they can’t shake.

Diane McZane, daughter of the condo’s owner, said, “We’re still here. It’s not over for them.”

Diane McZane’s 87-year-old mom has had a tough year after she panicked to move out of her fourth-floor home in the Horizon West condos.

“It was almost like being on the Titanic when it sank. It was 15 minutes, get out, you’ll never be here again,” McGuinn said.

This is the Horizon West condos on West Avenue in Waukesha today. A year earlier, it had been declared structurally unsound.

“There was panic everywhere, people in the hall saying is this true? Is this true? Is this really happening?” McGinn said.

The scars are both physical and emotional.

“He had a stress fracture in his back while running and then that shut him down. And then he started having more heart problems,” McGuinn said.

Now, Eoin is back at Kohler Hospital, his sixth visit in the past year.

“And prior to that she was vibrant and active and very healthy,” McGane said.

Of the 48 families affected, we’ve learned that some are still homeless — living with a family member, sleeping on couches. Some people who have decided to rent an apartment have noticed that their credit is taking a hit because they can no longer afford to pay their mortgage.

Condo owner Laurel Peterson said, “The last year has been very busy. The first two to three months I was very depressed.”

Laurel Peterson showed us this photo of her daughter in her second-floor condo before she hurried out.

Peterson said, “We grabbed what we could. We didn’t know where we were going, what was really going on.”

The condo owners have tried desperately to stay together while filing a lawsuit against Travelers Insurance for failing to pay claims, but a judge ruled against them. The owners are appealing. Meanwhile, the city is trying to force condo owners to pay for the building to be demolished.

“Of course, we’re all in financial straits, so it’s almost impossible for us to come up with that kind of cash on our own,” Peterson said.

A hearing is scheduled for January where a Waukesha County judge is expected to consider demolishing the building.

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