Elevator problem at NOE complex keeps elderly, handicapped tenants in shelter

New Orleans East building with no elevator service

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Six days after a tornado hit New Orleans East, dozens of people remained housed at the shelter at Joe Brown Park.

While some are returning home, others are having to stay due to an elevator issue at an apartment complex that received very little damage.

"Frustrated. I'm just waiting to see, just waiting to see," said evacuee Irene Goldsmith.

The Peace Lake Apartments were re-opened this weekend and more than 100 residents returned, but elderly and disabled tenants remain at the evacuation center because the complex's elevators are not working, and they can't climb the stairs.

"I want to go home, but I cant go," said evacuee Paulette Robinson.

"I have COPD, which is a breathing problem, and I can't climb those stairs," said evacuee Warren Freeman.

Antoinette Kendrick did return, but she has to walk six floors.

"We just have to deal, and we're thankful that the tornado hit and went around. It could have been worse," said Kendrick.

City and state officials are aware of the problem.

"They are going to need to send inspectors, and Ryan Berni is going out there to make sure that happens," said Rep. John Bagneris (D-New Orleans).
The on-site manager at Peace Lake didn't want to go on camera, but a regional manager told FOX 8 that the problem might not be fixed for three more days.

William Hill with the Multifamily Management Company said the elevator contractor had to order a circuit board, which won't come in until Tuesday. And he said it might take two more days to reprogram the elevator.

"Eventually they will get it fixed," Kendrick said.

Peace Lake evacuees say they will survive with the help of a lot of strangers who have turned out to help.

"Red Cross, and the people here have been reaching out from their heart," said evacuee Ruth Harness.

Multifamily Management Company said it is working with the elevator contractor to try and speed up the repair.

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