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South Surrey seniors powerless as winter chills

Breakaway Bays residents keep warm Monday in the clubhouse. - Alex Browne photo
Breakaway Bays residents keep warm Monday in the clubhouse.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

It’s been a chilly December so far for residents at Breakaway Bays mobile-home park.

As of  9:30 a.m. Monday, many of the residents at the more than 400-unit park – most of them seniors – had been without electrical power for hours, and some said they had been without power since early Saturday.

Small groups gathered in the clubhouse, the only building in the park with light and heat, looking for answers.

Not many had been forthcoming, they said.

A representative of the park’s management – who looked out of the clubhouse office briefly while residents spoke to Peace Arch News – declined to comment on the situation.

With temperatures dipping below 0 C, particularly at night, some residents were worrying about the condition of their older and more infirm neighbours.

“I’m going to be checking on some of them,” said longtime resident Rick Hermekens. “It’s like an icebox in these things, and there are a lot of elderly people here.”

Residents said that while a BC Hydro crew had come out to investigate Saturday afternoon, the problem seemed to have originated not with Hydro lines but with electrical transformers in the park. Power had been sporadic in some areas of the park since Friday afternoon, but while individual experiences differed, the absence of power had become widespread by Sunday, they agreed.

On Monday, electrical crews were working on-site, but at PAN press deadline residents said they had no information about when the problem would be fixed.

“There’s lots of questions, but everyone you talk to (in park management) tells you something different,” said Shirley Sobchak, 79, who said power had been off in her mobile home since 6 a.m. Saturday.

“They’ve just left us a note that the power is out,” she added. “Old people here are not going out to look for something in their mailbox to tell them there’s a power outage.

“It’s a health issue. There are 405 places in here, and there are a heck of a lot of seniors. There’s one man who’s 101 years old. We’re so worried about them. There are so many people in here on respirators – hasn’t anybody gone around to see if they’re alright? There’s a lot of people with Alzheimer’s – they’ll be scared to death.”

Joan Taylor, 80, said she had spent the night sleeping on the floor of her home.

“I slept there all night, because my legs gave out,” she said. “I was freezing to death… I have lots of blankets, but I can’t keep warm.

“I don’t mind being 80, (but) not when it’s freezing cold.”

Barbara Dyment told PAN her 93-year-old father, Jim Knights, had been without power since 7 a.m. Saturday, but had been able to get some respite at her house.

“He’s been coming back because he doesn’t want to leave his cat.”

Residents said communications from management had been minimal.  Other than a caretaker, they said, no one was on-site during the weekend.

Rick and Maureen Mosher said they called BC Hydro Saturday.

“There has been no initiative taken,” Rick Mosher said. “Everybody’s had to (go to the clubhouse) to find out what’s going on.

“It’s outrageous. This is a little community here. There’s no reason why this should happen in this day and age.”

Contacted by PAN Monday morning, Verna Logan, administrative assistant for Surrey-White Rock MLA Gordon Hogg, said she would bring the matter to the  the Ministry of Housing.

“As manufactured homes, they come under the Residential Tenancy Act,” she said.

 

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