'My whole life was in this home'

‘We have nowhere to go’: Residents of collapsed Holon building left destitute

After being rushed out with no time to collect any possessions, some residents scorn municipality’s solution of providing mattresses for sleeping on floor of community center

The scene of a collapsed apartment building in Holon, on September 12, 2021. (Flash90)
The scene of a collapsed apartment building in Holon, on September 12, 2021. (Flash90)

Residents of a Holon building that collapsed Sunday, demolishing all their possessions, have complained that they have no idea what they are supposed to do next and lamented that authorities are not doing enough to help them.

The building on Serlin Street in the central Israel city collapsed in the afternoon, just 30 hours after it was evacuated of its 32 families. The building gave way on its own, reflecting how close the situation had been to becoming a mass-casualty disaster resembling the collapse in June of a high-rise residential building in Florida, which killed 98 people.

Fire and rescue services had determined it to be in danger of immediate collapse, and rushed residents out, allowing only those who needed vital medications to return briefly.

“We are asking that the mayor help us. We are families left with nothing, homeless,” resident Hagit Levin told the Ynet news website. She said she and her daughter are now sleeping on her brother’s couch.

“How long can we be like this? It is not clear how long it will take until there is a solution,” she said. “We don’t know what to do.”

Another resident, Naor Navon, a married father of two, said: “We look at these ruins and understand that our lives have collapsed with the memories from our home and the items. We have been left in the street and we have nowhere to go.”

In the meantime, Navon and his family are staying in a hotel.

“The municipality provided us with a shameful solution, they opened a community center with mattresses on the floor and sleeping bags, there they expect 32 families to live without a shower and with one toilet? It is a disgrace,” he said. “We don’t know what will happen and when we will have a home again.”

Another resident, identified only as Chen, told the Kan public broadcaster that the evacuated residents include Holocaust survivors, a cancer patient, and a mother with a 1-month-old baby.

“We have no idea how this happened, we don’t know anything,” Moran Konfino, a resident who lived in the building for 15 years, told Channel 12 news.

Moran Konfino, resident of a Holon building that collapsed on September 12, 2021 (Channel 12 screenshot)

“If they would at least say something to us, but they are not saying anything,” she said. “We are in the dark. Why can nothing be said to us? What is going on here?”

Konfino, a mother of two, said: “I have been left with nothing. Thankfully, I am alive, but my whole life was in this home. All the photos of the children. I have no way to restore that.”

The scene of a collapsed apartment building in Holon on September 12, 2021. (Fire and Rescue Services)

The Holon Municipality said in a statement that municipal social workers had attended to the families during the day, providing them with food and drink.

“Most of the families were evacuated to relatives and the rest were offered to move to an apartment in a hotel for a reduced price or to a temporary installation that the municipality opened in one of the community centers,” it said.

The options were made to give “initial care until their living arrangements are organized,” the municipality said. “With full understanding of the complicated situation of the residents, the municipality cannot provide residential apartments or fund stays in hotels.”

Following the collapse, the Fire and Rescue Services’ Dan region instructed Holon municipal engineers to examine surrounding buildings to see if they had been impacted as the structure crumbled. A neighboring building was partially damaged and has also been evacuated for the time being, Hebrew media reported.

First responders were called to the building on Saturday after residents reported hearing the sound of a blast. Images showed cracks on the walls of the building and police said residents were unable to open the front doors of their apartments.

The decision to evacuate the building was made in coordination with professional engineers, police said at the time, with officers closing off the street outside the building and police urging people to stay away.

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