Lightning strike strands seniors in Trenton

June 27, 2012 2:27:49 PM PDT
An elevator outage, caused by a lightning strike, has left some seniors stranded in a Trenton apartment building.

The French Towers, managed by the Trenton Housing Authority, was hit by lightning on Friday night.

Since then, many of the elderly on the upper floors have been unable to get out.

"Too many switches had fried, control arms were gone, the sensors were gone. Had to go back to the manufacturer for repair," said Herb Brown of the Trenton Housing Authority.

One resident, 67-year-old Ronald Valentine, needed the help to two volunteers to help him down the stairwell.

"I had a double bypass in '97," Valentine explained. "It's okay coming down but, going up, I have to stop here to get my breath."

An army of volunteers from the Boy Scouts, churches and local mentoring groups has descended on French Towers to offer help to stranded residents.

"Groceries, helping us out with that, and prescriptions, helping you up and down the stairs," said Mario Perone.

"Walking up the stairs, going around to different apartment buildings, knocking on doors asking if they're okay," said volunteer Wykia Cooper. "We're handing out waters if they want them."

After attending her own birthday party downstairs, disabled resident Kim McCrae couldn't walk back up. So a group of men helped carry her up 6 flights of stairs to return her to her apartment.

"I was very, very pleased with the fact that the manager and two other guys helped to carry me up the steps," McCrae said. "I'm truly blessed."

The disabled elevators have been a terrible inconvenience, but many residents are pleased that, in a crisis, so many strangers have been willing to help.

"The lightning striking the building, it was an act of God," said building manager Kenny King. "But the other act of God was the community-based organizations that came together."

Building operators say they hope to have the elevators working again by Thursday.