New Orleans inspectors approve reopening of 9 of 10 senior citizen apartment buildings | Hurricane center

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Rose Brundage, 67, breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday. After nine days of unbearable heat, many at her mother’s house on Marigny Street in New Orleans, she was finally back home to her apartment in St. Martin’s Manor in the 7th Ward.

Most important: there was air conditioning. And when she flipped the switch in her living room, the lights came on.

“It was so good to come back. I just sat and looked around, and thanked God, ”she said. “It’s still a little empty, but people are coming back.”

Jefferson Parish evacuated the senior citizens’ buildings 2 days after a power outage. New Orleans waited.

Brundage was among hundreds of residents who returned to nine senior apartment buildings that city officials reopened on Thursday, nearly a week after closing and evacuating 10 buildings, finding elderly residents languishing there with the air conditioning kaput and no way to leave alone. The 10th building, Peace Lake Towners, remains closed, but city inspectors ruled the others fit for habitation on Wednesday.

They closed the buildings on Friday and Saturday after calls to property managers were not returned and initial inspections found residents were suffering from excessive temperatures after Hurricane Ida cut power to the south. east of Louisiana. Five people in the upper buildings died.

This prompted Mayor LaToya Cantrell and other city officials to call for a single city registry for apartment owners and routine government building inspections, so City Hall never again scrambles to reach managers of apartments. apartments after a disaster and that vulnerable residents are never left alone again. in heat and darkness.

Laura Bergerol wanted to evacuate the city before Hurricane Ida. And after. But she never managed to get out of it.

Cantrell championed such an effort for the first time during his tenure on city council, but he has stagnated in the face of the retreat of large private property owners. She urged council members to relaunch the effort on Wednesday.

“This is just one example of how we need accurate, real-time information for rental properties across the city of New Orleans,” Cantrell said. “It’s sad that we must have lost people.”

But it also raised the question of why, if city officials did not have time to move residents before a rapid storm, they failed to act faster to protect at-risk populations who took refuge. at home and suffered from unbearable heat and other problems after the storm passed. Jefferson Parish, for example, evacuated some private seniors’ apartment buildings two days after Ida, while New Orleans waited five to six days to move its seniors to public shelters with electricity.

10 people have died from excessive heat in power failure, coroners say

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, which manages the Saint-Martin de Brundage mansion and nine other apartment complexes for the elderly and disabled, said it asked city officials for help before the storm and did not l did not obtain, and that he could not force the residents to leave in the absence of an order from the Town Hall to evacuate.

HRI Properties, which operates Flint-Goodridge Apartments, another building where residents have been left destitute and where a tenant, Reginald Logan, died last week, says the building is not a ‘care’ center and that the company does not generally assist residents with evacuations.

Jefferson Parish, while not ordering general evacuations, helped evacuate several senior citizen apartment buildings two days after Ida cleared the area.

New Orleans officials said they responded to apartment managers’ requests when they received them. They also blame the fate of residents on the managers of apartments who lacked resources for their tenants.

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On Wednesday, a postal delivery man packed boxes in his truck in front of the open door of a Royal Street art gallery, while a Tennes …

What is at issue are apartments for the elderly able to live independently, not nursing homes where residents depend on nurses and staff for care. Despite their independence, many residents still have medical needs or limited mobility, which made situations untenable once the electricity was cut, city officials said.

Cantrell is now pushing, as is city council member Kristin Gisleson Palmer, for a way to hold private managers accountable, a way that will require consistent inspections of his administration if passed. Palmer’s plan, announced Tuesday, would require building managers to coordinate with city hall on evacuations and emergency planning, and maintain a list of residents in the event of an emergency. Operators would be subject to annual license renewals and inspections, similar to the rental registry concept Cantrell advocated during his tenure on the board.

Entergy has restored power to more than 90% of customers in the greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas, company officials said Friday morning.

If the inspections recently carried out at the 10 retirement homes are any indication, these examinations could reveal many problems. Inspectors found sprinkler systems and elevators that were not working in some cases, and residents’ windows that had been painted shut in others, said Peter Bowen, who heads the Office of External Affairs and Services of administration.

A door to the pump room was also inaccessible. All are potentially dangerous conditions in the event of an emergency in the building.

“All of these will be subject to administrative decision,” Bowen said. “The first priority is to make sure people can return home safely, but it is absolutely a priority to hold these building owners accountable.”

At Peace Lake Towers, the only building that has yet to reopen despite power being restored, storm damage has delayed the return of residents, Cantrell spokesperson Beau Tidwell said. The damage requires amended building permits and another inspection from the state fire marshal before residents can return. A representative from Millennium Management, which oversees the building, is working to relocate tenants, he said.

Residents of New Orleans’ other senior apartment complexes began the journey from a shelter in northern Louisiana to one of the many cooling centers where they were picked up last week on Thursday. Uber and Lyft offered them free rides from cooling centers to their homes, city officials said.

These complexes are St. Martin, St. John Berchman in Gentilly, Delille Inn in New Orleans East, Nazareth Inn 1 & 2 in New Orleans East, Flint-Goodridge Apartments in Milan, Christopher Inn in Faubourg Marigny, Annunciation Inn in Tremé and Renaissance Place in Algiers.

About 600 of those residents used the bus service to leave the city when it was first provided last week. About 800 people in total used the service and about 1,000 New Orleans residents as of Wednesday were staying at a state-run shelter.

Darnell Smith and Faye Thomas were two of them. Smith missed his chance to get on the outgoing bus the first day Thomas, his wife and their granddaughter were evicted from their Renaissance Place apartment. He spent a day or two living in his car before heading to Lyons Recreation Center on Louisiana Avenue on Monday, where he was transported to a shelter in Shreveport and joined Thomas.

“We’re probably coming back,” Smith said. The shelter had enough places to sleep and enough food, he added.

But a key question remains: “What about our rent? I don’t pay rent for the time I wasn’t living there all those days, ”Smith said.

Brundage, meanwhile, is just happy to be back home, where she can check out her plants and take a walk in the yard. Having just moved to Saint-Martin in July, she was the new face of the building. Now that things are back to normal, she can’t wait to get to know her neighbors better.

“I’m just really happy to see that people are fine and have come back,” she said.

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