Riverview Towers without air conditioning or electricity; residents moved to hotels

Power outage causes evacuation of residents at Riverside Towers in New Albany
Riverview Towers will be empty for some time as repairs are made. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Riverview Towers will be empty for some time as repairs are made. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Over 160 people who live at Riverview Towers on Scribner Drive were evacuated from the building Monday afternoon and taken to local hotels.

New Albany fire, police and other city departments were on hand to help residents transition smoothly.

Last Tuesday, the air conditioning stopped working and on Monday, the building lost power completely.

Both system failures were caused by small fires.

Engineers working to repair the problems told the New Albany Housing Authority it could be weeks before the building is back up and running normally.

"It's a big building and unfortunately the parts for this building can't be purchased at your local hardware store, so, they have to be manufactured and that's what's taking so long," Deputy Executive Director Tony Toran said.

Toran said over the last week, several residents have been treated at local hospitals for overheating.

When the power stopped working Monday, they made the decision to pay for residents to stay in hotels.

"If I didn't have any place to go I might be a little bit more undone," Karen Sheaks said. Sheaks has lived in the building for the past four years.

She said she's been fine without air conditioning because residents were provided with fans. But when she heard the power was out she worried for some of her friends.

"This building having so many elderly people on oxygen, it just really surprises me that there's not anything they can do faster," Sheaks said.

Mayor Jeff Gahan said it isn't surprising that the electric system is having issues.

"There's a lot of HUD (U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development) properties that need repair," Gahan said.

The city is developing a 10 year public housing repair plan to prevent issues like this. Ultimately, HUD will have to sign off on it, though.

"We're doing everything we can do on our part to make sure the living conditions are what they should be in New Albany," Gahan said.

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