DHA begins 'emergency relocation' at McDougald Terrace amid carbon monoxide concerns

Elaina Athans Image
Friday, January 3, 2020
DHA begins 'emergency relocation' at McDougald Terrace
The Durham Housing Authority has begun evacuations at the troubled McDougald Terrace public housing complex.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Durham Housing Authority has begun evacuations at the troubled McDougald Terrace public housing complex.

"In consultation with Durham Fire Department and Durham Emergency Medical Services, Durham Housing Authority is conducting an immediate emergency relocation of all McDougald Terrace residents to hotels until carbon monoxide risks have been eliminated," said DHA CEO Anthony Scott.

Durham City Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton told ABC11 that it's his understanding that DHA will begin moving out families Friday night. The decision was made after hearing the critical mass of complaints from residents at Thursday's community meeting about concerns including elevated carbon monoxide levels, infant deaths, rats and repair issues.

"The safety of our residents is our top priority, and we are taking immediate action to relocate everyone impacted while working with a cross-functional response team to stabilize the units as quickly as possible," Scott said. "We are communicating directly with residents of the community and additional updates will be provided once all residents have been safely relocated."

Earlier Friday, there was a new scare amid ongoing health and safety concerns as another resident began feeling sick and a carbon monoxide alarm signaled a problem.

Children and two women were seen scurrying out of their apartment as a carbon monoxide alarm was heard going off in the background. EMS and firefighters went inside with CO detectors.

"It's very disturbing. I'm very sad," said resident Ashley Canady.

The Durham Fire Department said it was called to the housing units Friday afternoon in response to the illness.

The city said officials checked and there was no reading of the poisonous gas in the air.

The patient was treated on-scene.

The latest incident came a day after a heated community meeting where residents vented their fears and frustrations to Durham Housing Authority officials.

"It still saddens me that people aren't taking this serious and this is something that's very, very serious," Canady said.

The Durham Housing Authority oversees several properties across the Bull City. There are five affordable housing complexes and 17 public housing sites.

McDougald Terrace holds the distinction of being the city's oldest and largest public-housing community.

"Would you want to live in these conditions? Would you want your children and grandchildren to live in this condition? This is unacceptable," Canady said.