ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It has now been several days since the tenants at Presbyterian Towers in St. Petersburg had heat and hot water.
According to management for the building, it happened because the motherboard to its boiler system had malfunctioned.
Stephanie Rapko, a resident we revisited on Monday after speaking with her on Saturday, is keeping warm with a small space heater she received from her apartment complex on Saturday.
Because of the holidays, she’s been told they won’t get it back up and running until most likely Wednesday.
Since the space heater warms up parts of her living room, she’s sleeping on her couch.
“I slept on my sofa,” she said. “I had two blankets here, a heating pad.”
To add insult to injury, she has a cold so she has to boil water to wash herself off.
“I’m still frustrated as well as others,” Rapko said.
In fact, we spoke with several residents on Saturday who were frustrated over this issue, along with the daughter of a resident on Monday who wanted to remain anonymous because she was worried her parent would face repercussions.
Despite an upcoming resolution, many feel it’s taking too long because by the time the boiler system will potentially be fixed the temperature will be back into the 70s.
“That’s the way things are around here,” Rapko said.
But presbyterian homes and housing disputes that claim.
While management wasn’t available for an in-person interview they answered several questions we had over email.
These are the questions we asked along with Presbyterian Homes and Housing’s responses:
Q: How long will reimbursements take for space heaters/hotel accommodations?
A: Once we receive receipts from residents, we will send refunds within one business day.
Q: Once this broken piece from the boiler system is replaced, what’s your message to residents who are worried that this is only a temporary solution and that it will eventually break again?
A: Nobody plans for a major mechanical failure such as this, but even with preventative maintenance, it happens. We are confident in the professionals that service the system and we will make whatever repairs are necessary in order to get it back up and running efficiently.
Q: Many residents that have reached out to us say they’re frustrated that it most likely won’t be resolved until Wednesday, which is when temperatures are rising back up. Any message to those folks and a response to why it’s taking until Tuesday to get the part?
A: The boiler did not fail until Friday evening. Saturday was Christmas Eve and Sunday was Christmas Day. Today is the observed day for Christmas, so businesses remain closed. I wish the circumstances were different, but the bottom line is that supply houses are closed and will not open until Tuesday the 27th. Once they open, the order will be processed and the part will be overnighted to the property.
Q: Is anyone in management on site and is anyone doing wellness checks on some of the residents?
A: Staff was on site Saturday to deliver space heaters and check in on the more frail residents. The property manager is at the community today posting notices and checking temperatures inside the building.
Q: How many space heaters were you all able to get/distribute to residents?
A: 50 space heaters were delivered on Saturday and distributed to residents.
Despite this, Rapko won’t be satisfied until things are back to normal. “Start maintaining this place,” Rapko said. “Why is there air coming through the windows? Why are we without hot water and heat on the coldest night of the year? You shouldn’t put us at risk like this.”