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Broken elevators leave dozens of hi-rise residents stranded

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Some elderly residents with serious health issues said they had to climb as many as 10 flights of stairs due to broken elevators at the L.B. Johnson Apartments, which is owned by the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

Others in wheelchairs, or with other mobility issues, had to wait hours for the one working elevator at the LBJ hi-rise to get fixed.

In a Facebook video, Carmela Dorsey, vice president of the tenant council at the Johnson Apartments, voiced the tenants' frustration, "We have both elevators out, we have 10 floors. People are walking down the stairs with walkers to get downstairs."

Ronald Lawson who lives on the 8th floor at LBJ, uses a walker-wheelchair, and is unable to climb stairs, so a family member carried Lawson and his wheelchair up to his apartment.

"My brother had to literally pick me up," recounted Lawson about his ordeal, which he said could have jeopardized his safety and his brother's, "he is sick himself."

Community activist Nate Boyd recorded the Facebook video of the elevator breaking down over the weekend, "When I got here, somebody came down and it broke.  While I was here it broke again.  Then the people were stuck, started coming down, started complaining and really being upset."

BMHA Executive Director Gillian Brown said all of the housing agency's high rises have problems with old elevators, but LBJ'S two are the worst. They are so old spare parts are hard to come by.

"We are essentially cannibalizing one elevator to make sure one elevator is working properly at all times."

Brown told News 4 he has engineers on 24-hour standby so they can be on site quickly when the one remaining elevator is malfuntioning, and the repair team was dispatched to the Johnson Apartments six separate times over the weekend.

The BMHA boss said the Johnson elevators are a priority in the agency's capital improvement plans, and they are already drawing up plans to replace them sometime next year. Brown could not be specific about when the elevators would be replaced in 2019.
 


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