TIJUANA (Border Report) — An apartment building that was being watched by Tijuana city engineers and public safety officials for about a week finally slid off its hillside perch in the La Sierra neighborhood, not far from the border.
The structure, and a three-story apartment building next to it, had been declared uninhabitable following a set of storms that hit the region in recent weeks.
The rain softened and eroded some of the buildings’ foundations, leaving the structures teetering on the edge of a canyon.
On Saturday afternoon, one of the buildings came tumbling down.
As it fell, loud cracking noises could be heard and the building split in half as it landed on the parking lot of a car dealership below.
That business had been evacuated when the buildings were declared a danger last week.
“I’m frustrated, sad and mad,” said Ruby Jimenez, one of the residents in the three-story apartment still standing, but on the brink of collapse.
“All of my things are still there,” she said.
Jimenez and other residents have been given permission to retrieve some of their belongings.
Mexico National Guard troops are also helping by carrying out mattresses and other large items.
“In spite of it all, a tragedy didn’t take place. We’ve all lost material things, but this could’ve happened while we were all asleep in the middle of the night,” said Jimenez.
But one of Jimenez’s neighbors wasn’t as understanding.
Guadalupe Saldana said her business, a small store, which she ran out of the building’s first floor, is a total loss.
“I feel a lot of sadness, I’d been there for 13 years,” Saldana said in Spanish. “All this dirt and other material came in and ruined everything.”
Saldana also blames city officials for not allowing residents in sooner as she believes she could’ve salvaged a lot of her merchandise.
Why didn’t they let us in earlier in the week, I could’ve saved a lot of stuff,” said Saldana. “Everyone talks about the building, and yes I was just a renter, but this was my business, my legacy, this is how my family has survived for 13 years.”
The city of Tijuana is waiting on a court order so it can demolish the building, which is owned by an American citizen who lives north of the border.
According to the city of Tijuana, the owner was ordered to appear before a city commission on Monday to discuss if she faces any liability.
A city engineer on site said they are still trying to determine why the buildings could not withstand the rain or the runoff.
Residents like Jimenez aren’t waiting for the investigation to be concluded.
“About 20 of us are going to sue her,” said Jimenez. “She hasn’t called us or even shown up to offer any help.”