DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been more than two weeks since more than 200 families were evacuated from their Durham homes, and most of those families remain housed in 12 different hotels.
"I want to first acknowledge that this is a terrible crisis in our community," said Durham County Board of Commissioners Chair Wendy Jacobs. "There are many, many reasons that we have come to this moment. It involves decisions that were made locally, at the state level, the federal level. It is a very complex situation. This is a defining moment for us as a community."
"No one knew that there were high CO ratings at McDougald Terrace until they were recently discovered," Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said. "When they were discovered, (Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott) made the decision to relocate because the safety of the residents is his highest priority. I fully endorse that and I fully endorse this difficult decision."
"This is a problem that is 40 years in the making," Schewel said. "Everyone in Durham who is paying attention knows that McDougald Terrace and other housing authority communities have been deteriorating for decades and then patched together. Mr. Scott is the leader who is doing something about that."
Durham Housing Authority (DHA) evacuated the families from McDougald Terrace over concerns about high levels of carbon monoxide (CO). Malfunctioning stoves have been determined to be the cause of the high CO levels.
In an afternoon news conference, Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said all inspections at the apartment complex were complete. Of the nearly 350 apartments that were inspected, 211 stoves, 38 furnaces and 35 hot water heaters need to be replaced due to elevated carbon monoxide levels.
Scott said DHA is now putting together an action plan with a timeline for repairs and renovations.
City of Durham said it created DHA in 1949 to provide safe and decent housing for low-income families of Durham. City Council appoints DHA board members who then operate under the rules and regulations set up by the federal government's Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Scott said DHA is also sending inspectors to all five other housing authority properties that use gas: Oxford Manor, Hoover Road, Laurel Oaks, Club Boulevard and Edgemont Elms. DHA will test individual appliances at all of these locations.
Salvation Army asked donations of perishable food items, toiletries, baby wipes and diapers to be dropped off at 601 Willard Street in Durham. The charity is no longer accepting clothing donations.