SUFFOLK, Va. - More than 100 people will seek temporary shelter after a major water leak at the Suffolk Tower Apartments Wednesday afternoon.
Suffolk Fire & Rescue units are on scene at the apartment building, which is located in the 180 block of N. Main Street in Downtown Suffolk.
Dispatchers received the call about the incident at 12:13 p.m.
After a preliminary investigation, officials determined that there was a major water leak on the fifth floor of the apartment building, which then affected the floors below and the basement.
It took residents like David Mount and his wife by surprise. He said it was a concern given the collapse of Surfside, Florida, condominium on June 24, which so far resulted in 18 deaths.
"When I stepped out of my building, I saw a whole bunch of water gushing out of my closet, in the hallway," Mount said.
His wife, Tammy Mount, was not home when water started leaking.
"He called me up. I was at my girlfriend's house and said, 'Baby, the building is flooded," Tammy explained. "I said, 'What are you talking about?' and he said, 'The whole building is flooded.'"
Due to the major leak, electrical hazards associated with the incident have also been identified.
Officials say the leak has been secured.
One resident, Jacqueline Edghill, said she packed up what she and her husband could pack. She added something caught her eye the night before, saying she believes it foreshadowed Wednesday's water leak.
"I looked up on the ceiling last night; I said to my husband, 'Does that look like a water ring to you?'" Edghill said. "It was a big, noticeable [ring] that I haven't noticed before."
According to building officials, the apartment includes 50 occupied units, and a total of 118 people will be evacuated and temporarily displaced as a result of the incident.
Suffolk firefighters and medics are helping non-ambulatory people with the evacuation process.
Suffolk Public Utilities, Suffolk Planning & Community Development, and Dominion Energy also responded to the scene. A spokesperson from Dominion Energy said crews would shut off the power once fire crews say it is safe enough to do so.
An emergency shelter at King’s Fork High School had been opened to help displaced residents, but city officials said it closed at 7:30 p.m. because the property manager for Suffolk Tower Apartments said residents will receive vouchers for accommodations at the Quality Inn & Suites in the 1500 block of Holland Road.
Any affected residents of the apartment building should call the Suffolk Tower Emergency contact number at 757-793-1096 with any questions they may have.
Suffolk Fire & Rescue and Suffolk Parks & Recreation are providing transportation to the hotel.
Officials are continuing to investigate the cause of the water leak.