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Roof leaks frustrate seniors at old mill apartments

Some senior residents at the historic Highland Mill apartments in Rock Hill are feeling all wet and frustrated that water from recent storms continues to leak into their homes - even after some repairs have been made.

The company that owns and operates the apartments - Landmark Property Management Co. of Winston-Salem, N.C. - said repairs are ongoing, but the water leaks continued Wednesday morning.

The storms that hit late Tuesday and early Wednesday - following even heavier storms June 11 and 12 that came after leaks from rain and hail storms before that - have left some residents covering furniture and floors with towels and pots and pans to catch the water.

The apartments are for low or limited-income people older than 55, and many residents there receive federal rent assistance vouchers.

"This time I had water on the floor, water falling on top of the fridge, and on the counter," said Carol Thaxton, 69, a recent widow who has lived at the apartments for three years.

"The last time I used a storage container, a big one, to catch the water in one spot and it was two inches deep."

Thaxton also showed a leak down a wall that had left some model toys belonging to her late husband damaged. She is concerned that books, antiques and other items that could never be replaced might be lost.

The heaviest leaks forced her to take up a rug before it was ruined.

"They are working on it, I know that," Thaxton said, "but the leaks need to stop."

Another 82-year-old resident, who did not want to be named, said the latest storm left her "with water pouring on my head as I tried to dry it up. The last time was worse."

Other residents have voiced concerns about leaks as well.

The Courtyard at Highland Park, which also houses the York County Council on Aging senior center, opened in 2005 after a multi-million-dollar partnership between Landmark and the city of Rock Hill to renovate the old mill site on Standard Street east of downtown.

However, officials with Rock Hill's housing authority said the city has no role in maintenance or upkeep of the building.

There are 116 units in the building.

The large roof area, coupled with the age of the building, has required maintenance up to and including after the recent storms, Landmark officials said. Landmark runs about 20 historic apartments in South Carolina, including a former mill in York.

The water that had leaked before Wednesday's problems was traced to pinholes in the roof and skylights that were leaking, said Blair Maas, Landmark's director of property management.

Contractors and roofers with the company that installed the roof did work before and after the storms June 11 and 12, Maas said.

On June 13, Landmark sent a memo to all residents stating that some repairs had been done to the roof but asking that any damage be reported to the office. On Friday, the company told residents that repairs were being done "as timely as possible."

The "mammoth" roof is under warranty, Maas said, and dealing with maintenance is "normal with historic buildings." Two years ago, Landmark had to get rid of bats that had nested in the building.

Workers found some problems that needed fixing, Maas said, but in at least one case a skylight window left open contributed to the water leaks.

"We believe we are doing the right thing at Highland," Maas said.