MACON, Ga. — Residents from two Crystal Lake apartment buildings were evacuated Friday after Macon-Bibb Fire and Code Enforcement officials deemed their building to be unsafe.
A lack of water and power in the mid-rise and high-rise buildings forced about 70 residents to pack up their belongings and find other places to stay for an indefinite amount of time.
"It's getting colder tonight and with the temperatures falling, they need to be somewhere they can be warm, and right now, no heat or lighting is in their facility, so we really just want to get them to a safer place," said Macon-Bibb Fire Chief Marvin Riggins.
Earlier this week, the water was shut off after Crystal Lake failed to pay a water bill of over $40,000. The water was turned back on after the complex agreed to pay for a portion, but a leaking pipe called for fire officials to have the power cut off.
18-year resident Cheryl Gibbs was emotional when told she had to evacuate.
"This is the first day that I broke down and cried. I actually broke down and cried when they told me I had to leave," Gibbs said.
Macon-Bibb County partnered with The Salvation Army to provide sleeping arrangements for displaced tenants. The Bibb-County Sheriff's Office will be on hand throughout Friday night to make sure residents belongings are safe.
Juanita Collins, a 38-year resident, said she's frustrated but happy to have a place to stay the night.
"I knew it was bad, but I had no idea it was this bad, but you know what? Out of all of this, I'm still blessed because I've got a place to go tonight," Collins said.
The buildings are to remain unoccupied except by workers fixing the issues and will be closed until they are deemed to be safe. As of now, neither the complex or the county know when that may be.
"Whether or not it gets solved tonight, this weekend, Monday or Tuesday, I do not know," said Macon-Bibb County commissioner Virgil Watkins. "I don't think they know if they know that because as they rip away walls and rip away wires, they're finding other situations."
Tenants are asked to contact the leasing office or The Salvation Army if they need sleeping arrangements. Those who want to help can donate gift cards to The Salvation Army.
Those can provide housing for tenants are asked to call the Macon Housing Authority at 478-752-5000 or The Salvation Army at 478-746-8572.