Dozens displaced by carbon monoxide

30 to 40 Yonkers residents looking for new home
February 28, 2008 2:30:52 PM PST
Dozens of people are without a home Thursday after high levels of carbon monoxide were found inside their apartment building in Yonkers.Authorities say the levels were so high, some people were already starting to get sick.

Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Sager has more.

Officials say residents never should have been able to live in the building in the first place. The building was condemned, and recently a collapsed pipe was trapping carbon monoxide inside.

Distraught families were told to grab whatever they could from their apartments, located at 159 Elm Street, and leave immediately. Most of the tenants are immigrants, and many are children. They left with their belongings stuffed into bags and cars on one of the coldest days of the year.

Juan Beneres is one of the residents. He was told he won't be allowed back, even though he only moved in two weeks ago.

"Two weeks we're here, and they say take it all outside and go," he said. "We have nowhere to go."

The problems started when Con Edison got reports of a gas leak. Emergency workers reported carbon monoxide levels of 300 parts per million, with anything more that 35 parts per million being a concern.

"I was having headaches," one resident said. "I thought it was because of the heat."

Meanwhile, officials in Yonkers confirm that the building was condemned two years ago, and that a landlord was illegally renting out the apartments. The city, as well as volunteers, is attempting to help those evicted, saying many are cold, frustrated and frightened.

"There's some kids, yeah," volunteer Miguel Nunez said. "It's hard to determine because everybody is scattered."

"If that's the case, where this landlord has been accepting rent and not taking care of his business, that's not the fault of these people," volunteer Marty Banks said. "They didn't know this."

The city of Yonkers is offering temporary shelter to those displaced. There estimate there were 30 to 40 residents, but say the exact number is unclear because many may have been undocumented immigrants who are scared to come forward.

Police say they are looking for the landlord.