SANFORD, Fla.,None — Once again, WFTV viewers came to the rescue. Eyewitness News reported Monday night that a 90-year-old man was suffering through the cold with no heat in his Sanford public housing apartment, and he hadn't had heat in two years.
After the story aired, a viewer with a big heart and a little know-how got the man's heat back on.
A dozen apartments were without heat at the Redding Gardens public housing complex. Tuesday afternoon, Rinaldi's Air Conditioning was still there fixing heater number three after a full day of unpaid work. Everyone else will have to use space heaters to keep their units above the required 68 degrees.
For the first time in two years, 90-year-old John Sterling had heat flowing into his apartment Tuesday afternoon.
"I can feel it. I can feel it," Sterling told WFTV reporter George Spencer.
"How does it feel?" Spencer asked.
Until Eyewitness News got involved Monday, the Sanford Housing Authority had been telling him his heater was too old to find parts for.
"Somebody had been in here and pulled all the wires and things out," Sterling said.
When Rinaldi's Air Conditioning heard Sterling's story, the company volunteered its services. Their crews fixed the heating problem at his apartment in 30 minutes, which the Sanford Housing Authority's repair men hadn't fixed in two years.
"They're pretty typical parts that are in here. They're readily available," said Scott Hudson, Rinaldi's Air Conditioning.
After repairing Sterling's heater, they went to work on the 11 other units in Redding Gardens with the same problem. The housing authority head told Eyewitness News on Tuesday he's investigating how the fixes could have been so delayed and whether other problems have been similarly ignored by maintenance crews.
Sterling said his confidence in the Sanford Housing Authority is already shot.
"I've been here a couple of years asking them and they say, ‘We have no money. We have no money. The company has no money.' And what are they doing with the rent they collect here?" Sterling questioned.
Billed at normal rates, a full day of one of Rinaldi's worker's labor plus parts would cost about $1,500.
Maintenance workers found to be neglectful by the Sanford Housing Authority could face anything from termination or suspension to simple retraining.
Previous Stories: January 4, 2010: Man, 90, Suffering Through Freeze With No Heat