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No showers, cooking available for Church Street Manor residents
Gas leaks forced residents of Church Street Manor to evacuate their apartments twice last week. Inspectors searched for the solutions on Monday as residents made do without gas.

Residents of Church Street Manor, an affordable housing complex for the elderly and disabled in Gainesville, were evacuated twice last week after an apparent gas leak sent worry and alarm through the community.

And because gas powers stoves and hot water heaters, residents have been unable to cook, shower or do laundry since last Friday.

Resident Bonnie Yeary said she was told, “It wouldn’t kill you to wear dirty clothes.”

The toxic smell of gas is one of several problems residents said property management has been slow to address in recent weeks.

Marcy Hubbard said the gas smell in her unit was “overwhelming.”

“I knew it was gas,” she said, adding that concerns were originally dismissed before the problem exacerbated.

Gainesville Fire Department spokesman Keith Smith said the gas has been cut off at the complex while remedies are made.

“We have responded a couple of times to Church Street Manor,” Smith said. “Each time there was a smell of gas in the apartment. For safety precautions we turn the gas off in the apartment and notify maintenance personnel of the situation and have them look at the gas appliances and determine the issue.”

Smith said firefighters made sure that there was no remaining smell of gas in the apartments before leaving the scene.

Residents said one of their own was hospitalized as a result of the noxious smell.

Maintenance was on site Monday morning and afternoon inspecting all units and working to replace stoves, which appear to have been the source of the gas smell.

Property management at the 54-unit complex located on Jesse Jewell Parkway across from the Northeast Georgia Medical Center said all stoves will be fixed or replaced by Wednesday. 

The Norton Agency real estate firm manages the property.

Faulty valves make it difficult to gauge the temperature on the cooking units and they could easily accidentally be left on, management said, and the new stoves will have automatic ignition switches.

Bringing the stoves and furnaces in each apartment up to code has been an ongoing project, with about 50 percent replaced thus far, management said.

Residents at the complex live on fixed incomes covered by Social Security and disability checks.

And the inability to cook their own meals in recent days, coupled with the fact that most do not have transportation of their own, prompted a local church to step up and provide a cookout over the weekend. Property management also ordered pizza to feed residents Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, residents told The Times that they fear the complex might fail an upcoming inspection of the property by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development because of the issues at the property, which also include bad plumbing in some units and scattered power surges.

The subsidized apartment complex is likely to be redeveloped at some point in the coming years. But nothing is immediate.

Laura Haynes’ apartment, which flooded several weeks ago, requires new carpet and Sheetrock to rid the unit of mold, for example.

Haynes packed up her stuff to accommodate the necessary work. But there she sits, the problem still not remedied, living out of a suitcase in her own home.

“To me, they don’t really care,” Haynes said.