DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham Housing Authority is working to help anyone wanting to evacuate McDougald Terrace following issues with carbon monoxide, CBS 17 confirmed Friday.
The voluntary evacuation began around 6 p.m., DHA said. More than 340 people live at McDougald.
“It’s devastating. It’s a serious issue. It’s a silent killer. Some people can go to sleep and never wake up,” said Brittney Lee.
Lee has lived at McDougald Terrace for three years. The pregnant mother was one of many people hoping to evacuate Friday night, saying she no longer felt safe in her home.
She said the confusion and scramble to get out didn’t ease any of the concerns raised by residents over the past week.
“I just want to be treated like any other citizen in Durham,” said Lee. “I don’t want to feel like I’m inadequate because I’m in housing authority.”
Documents obtained Friday by CBS 17 illustrate the timeline that started with Christmas Day concerns and led to the inspection of nearly 200 units and the installation of dozens of carbon monoxide detectors during three days of checks at McDougald Terrace between Dec. 27-30.
Mom of five Tela Shaw said a new monitor was recently installed in her unit.
“Every time my heat comes on, it goes off all night long. I don’t use the heat because I’m scared,” said Shaw. “I’d rather us be cold rather than lose a child.”
The housing authority released inspection results Thursday during a community meeting after there were reports of carbon monoxide exposures at the complex.
At the meeting, DHA officials said two infants deaths could possibly be linked to elevated carbon monoxide.
The investigations began Dec. 27 and continued on Dec. 28 and 30.
EMS staff on Dec. 27 found one child with elevated carbon monoxide readings and an adult female was treated and released at Duke Hospital after showing signs of high carbon monoxide saturation.
A resident was found Dec. 28 to have an elevated level of carbon monoxide saturation declined to be taken to a hospital. Another resident Dec. 30 was found to have a higher level of the gas and was treated at Duke Regional Hospital.
Anthony Scott, DHA CEO said the decision to evacuate residents was made Friday after two more cases of elevated carbon monoxide levels.
“Durham Housing Authority is conducting a voluntary relocation for all McDougald Terrace residents to hotels until carbon monoxide risks have been eliminated. The safety of our residents is our top priority, and we are taking immediate action to relocate everyone impacted while working with a cross-functional response team to stabilize the units. We are communicating directly with residents of the community and additional updates will be provided once the voluntary relocation is safely completed.”
The investigations also checked 196 units and installed 453 detectors for either smoke or carbon monoxide, a toxic, odorless gas that is emitted when fuel or other carbon-based materials are burned.
Scott said inspections should last a week, giving crews a longer period of time to monitor levels in each unit and make any necessary repairs.
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