Some PHA residents sweat it out during outage

July 23, 2011 4:18:12 PM PDT
Hundreds of Philadelphia Housing Authority residents, many of them senior citizens, lost their electricity in the middle of the night.

For about 12 hours they had to sweat it out without air conditioning or fans.

"A hot oven," is how diabetic Carolyn Hart described the sweltering conditions at the Philadelphia Housing Authority's Wilson Park Apartments on Jackson Street in South Philadelphia. She was being transported by medics from one of the upper floors of a 12 story tower to the ground below.

"I started sweating real bad, plus I have heart trouble. My heart was beating faster some had to get some air," she said.

All 789 units lost power about 1:00 a.m. Saturday when a transformer blew leaving more than 2,000 people - including the elderly in 4 senior towers - without cool air in the middle of this brutal heat wave.

"Once the electric goes off and the air goes off there's nothing else to do but get out," said Katherine Butler.

By 10:30 a.m. Ethel Nesbitt's apartment was 95 degrees - and she's on the ground floor. Her daughter, Maxine, said "I'm afraid to leave my mom here because it's too hot. She needs water. The refrigerators are down."

The relatives of some residents were visibly angry with the situation.

"It's wrong what is going on here. It's not just one building. You got this building, you got that building," said Sondra Zimmitt, the daughter of a resident.

PHA officials say they did the best they could under the circumstances. While the equipment was being worked on they provided water to residents and moved whoever would go to an air conditioned community center.

"As we know electricity goes out when it's really hot and we're just asking them to be patient, to stay cool and relax," said PHA Spokeswoman Nichole Tillman.

After almost 12 hours, power was finally restored so these residents could fire up the fans and air conditioners once again.