The air conditioner is working – for now – at a large, low-income senior apartment complex off of Broadway in Tahoe Park.
But it could turn off any moment.
About half of the 225 residents of Greenfair Apartments left their homes during the past week and are staying with family. But the rest have chosen to largely stay inside their units, causing a possibly serious emergency situation if the cool air stops again during this week’s heat wave. Temperatures have dropped, but daytime highs for the next two days remain in the high 90s.
“If someone says, ‘I am staying here (though) you’ve informed me of the consequences,’ what are you going to do?” said property supervisor Mindy Hicks.
The air conditioning at Greenfair turned off for the first time this week on Sunday night. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District was able to retrieve the specialized fuse needed to repair the system by Monday evening. With the cool air flowing again, Hicks thought the complex was in the clear.
But the very next day, the cooling system for all 194 units stopped working again, this time because of a broken compressor.
“It’s like, ‘Yes were running, now we’re not. Yes we’re running, no we’re not,’ ” Hicks said.
On Wednesday, contractors hired by the property were able to jury-rig the system to keep churning out cool air.
“We got a couple guys that did some … razzle dazzle to get the systems up,” Hicks said. “It was a tarp that was shading some of the equipment and a hose and fans and sprinklers to cool the area.”
But Hicks said she and the staff have had to make it clear to residents that the repair is temporary, and hanging by a thread.
“Knock on wood, we’re doing OK,” Hicks said Thursday evening.
Sacramento emergency services personnel and members of the Fire Department’s community emergency response team program “have been in and out of that building” the last few days, said Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Chris Harvey.
When they arrived on scene Wednesday, they quickly worked to create a cooling center, since the air conditioning in the hallways and common areas is still working. But according to Hicks, not one person went to that cooling space, which included several portable air conditioners brought in by emergency response teams.
“We encouraged these individuals (to go) where it’s cool … but at the end of the day we can’t force them out of their homes,” said Sacramento’s Emergency Manager Jason Sirney. “There was a tremendous concern about the security of their apartments if they weren’t there.”
The contractors received the replacement compressor Friday afternoon, Hicks said. A crane is expected to arrive at the property around 2 p.m. Saturday, which will then lift the piece to ninth floor. If all goes as planned, the air conditioner will be permanently fixed by Saturday evening, she said.