Displaced Patten Towers residents want answers
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Hundreds of elderly, disabled and low income residents are still at emergency shelters after a fire at Patten Towers late Tuesday night. They say it's getting old and want to know how much longer until they can return home.
The local Red Cross and Salvation Army are keeping displaced residents fed and a roof over their heads. They say they're planning to keep the two emergency shelters going at least through the weekend as crews work to restore power to Patten Towers. They say it could take a week maybe more because the building is so old. They say engineers are out assessing the building.
At last count, there are still 184 people staying at the shelters, and frustrations are starting to mount.
"Over 200 of us together, it's like a mad house," displaced resident Sidney McDonald said.
The shelters at the Brainerd Recreation Center and East Brainerd Church of Christ remain full. Red Cross officials thought family members would come take some away by night two, but didn't.
"We did not see a dramatic drop like we were expecting and what that tells us, is that these folks really need a place to go," Red Cross Community Chapter Executive Greg Waite said.
"I think it's nice we have a place to go, but it's not accessible for somebody in a wheelchair," displaced resident Regina Robinson said.
Residents say they're thankful for the Red Cross and Salvation Army, but two days in, they're ready for some more concrete answers on when they can return to their apartments. Officials say it could be a week.
"Sleeping on a cot ain't too good because I have lower back issues," McDonald said.
"They are taken care of here, it's just in the long term, if they can't move in within the next few days, where do they go from here," Hamilton County Emergency Services Spokesperson Amy Maxwell said.
Hamilton County Emergency Services says they're working with Patten Towers owner PK Management to come up with better temporary housing for them as they wait. Thursday, Patten Towers Service Coordinator Candice Sharp says she couldn't offer many answers.
"We got to wait until corporate comes in," Sharp said.
She says corporate officials are flying down to address it Friday, nearly three days after the fire. Until then, she had some news to share, that didn't go over so well.
"I was told the rent is still due," Sharp said.
"This is where we're living at now, so we shouldn't have to pay no rent," displaced resident Goirge Ellis said.
She says she does not know if rent will be pro-rated for the time spent in the shelter, that corporate will also address that Friday.
Salvation Army and Red Cross officials say they've already spent tens of thousands of dollars to run the shelters and have already fed more than 2,500 meals, snacks and drinks.
They say this is more of a long-term emergency response than most local fires require, and only have the tornado response to compare it to.
If you'd if you'd like to donate, visit the official web sites of the Salvation Army and Red Cross.