Heat Leaves Residents in 7-Story Building With No Elevator for More Than a Day

Both young and old struggle to climb up daunting flights of stairs

By Pei-Sze Cheng
|  Thursday, Jul 8, 2010  |  Updated 11:30 AM EDT
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Residents of a seven floor apartment building in <a title=Elmhurst, Queens have been without a working elevator since Tuesday and they blame Con Edison and the heat wave." />

Residents of a seven floor apartment building in Elmhurst, Queens have been without a working elevator since Tuesday and they blame Con Edison and the heat wave.

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Residents of a seven-floor apartment building in Queens have been without a working elevator since Tuesday and they blame Con Edison and the heat wave.

The utility company reduced voltage to neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn to prevent the possibility of a blackout. While residents of the Continental at 87-10 51st Avenue in Elmhurst still have working lights and air conditioning, they say the voltage is lower.

"The air conditioning isn't as strong," said resident Demetrius Rivera. "We had the air cranking and the thermometer still read 90 degrees."

NBCNewYork accompanied 88-year-old Chow Yeung up six flights of stairs. It was a trip that would have been difficult for a younger person let alone Yeung. The oppressive heat inside the stairwell made it difficult to breathe.

The power to the elevators was shut off Tuesday at 5 p.m. and according to building managers, Con Edison never warned them this would happen. No one became stuck in the elevators when it happened, but the co-op board president, who is also 88, says the utility company should provide generators to keep the elevators going.

"There are many people that are elderly and handicapped people, that's what concerns me," said Nicholas Davos.

Con Edison says the full voltage was restored to that area at 5:40 p.m. Wednesday. But when NBCNewYork checked around 9:30 p.m., the elevators were still not working. While the company will continue to investigate, they say the elevators may not be working due to a mechanical problem.

Meanwhile, residents both young and old struggled in the heat to climb the stairs, some holding groceries, others carrying their laundry.

"It is physically taxing, but I'm doing it out of necessity," said Michael Sander, who underwent a quadruple bypass a few years ago. "I'm restricting the number of times I go in and out."

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