Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Help Me Howard: Broken Elevator
An elevator is convenient -- if you are elderly or can't climb stairs -- they are a necessity. But, if you live in a high rise, are they required to keep their elevator operating? For one South Florida man it became a life threatening question. Which is why they turned in desperation to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--Every day Alicia climbs the steps to go visit her parents to make sure the elderly couple are doing ok.
Alicia Rouco: "My father he just get 87 and my mother is 82."
Notice, when we showed Alicia visiting, we showed walking to the fifth floor...
Cause the elevator in this condo does not work.
Alicia Rouco: "It's broken and they spend three days to fix it. Five days to fix it; now it's almost a month."
Making it worse for the chao's.
Alicia Rouco: "So it's impossible for him to go up and down the steps."
Roberto is battling cancer and has gone through radiation.
He can barely walk and neither he nor his wife -- also named Alicia -- can even think about climbing five flights of stairs.
Alicia Rouco: "If they want something -- to read a book, a newwpaper,.anything -- if they want to eat something I need to come here and bring them everything they need."
Patrick Fraser: "Five floors, 70 steps. It's no fun, but if you are healthy you are fine. Now imagine you are in your 80's -- weakened by radiation. Alicia says that fifth floor makes you one thing. Now they are prisoners in their own home."
Since he can't get down the steps roberto has been missing doctors appointments..
His health has worsened. And recently fireighters had to pick him up and rush him to the hospital..
Alicia Rouco: "Uno, dos...six - six firefighters to carry him down...strong ones."
For Alicia, it's a nightmare. She is a prisoner, and a month without an elevator is giving her horrible thoughts.
Alicia Chao: "She want to be suicide because she want to sometimes take and jump. Because she is desperate."
Alicia has complained to the condo association and their management company. But all they give her are excuses.
Alicia Rouco: "I talked to the association...my mother talk to the association several times...they told me dont worry...next day..the other day and nothing happened."
And after a month of nothing happening, they called Help Me Howard to get something to happen.
Howard Finkelstein: "It is the associations responsibility to fix this elevator quickly. And when I say quickly, I mean immediately because just as in Roberto's case, people's lives could be at stake. If they don't fix it, you can go to court and win; but it's quicker to call the county."
Rather than hear excuses from the association, I reported the problem to Miami Dade County's Office of Elevator Safety.
Their efforts were amazing. The county immediately sent out an order to correct.
And the elevator that didnt work for a month was suddenly repaired.
Michael Chavez, the chief inspector, told me the door will still require permanent replacement but at least the elevator is running for now.
Alicia Rouco: "It's going up and down."
An enormous relief and a sense of release for one daughter and her parents.
Alicia Rouco: "I want to say thank you to Channel 7 and Help Me Howard for all the help they gave to us."
Patrick Fraser: "We will say thank you, but Miami Dade County's Office of Elevator safety moved as quickly as I have ever seen a government agency move. They deserve the credit.
"By the way, if your elevator breaks, don't call the county right away. Howard says give the association a chance to get it fixed before you go over their heads."
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