One week after a tragic crane collapse claimed five lives in downtown Kelowna, B.C., an evacuation order remains in place for nearly two dozen properties in the area.
“Right now there are 21 addresses on evacuation order,” said Maria Lee, public information officer with Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre.
The order is still in place as crews continue to remove the mangled crane from the Brooklyn tower construction site on the corner of Bernard Avenue and St. Paul Street.
“We have an on-site team taking care of the continuing dismantling and removal of the crane pieces,” Lee told Global News.
One of the buildings that remains evacuated is the Carmel Court complex at 1450 Bertram Street.
It’s home to more than 100 residents, all of them seniors on a fixed income.
“The majority of people are probably 70-plus in the building, some in their 90s,” said Jan Steffen, the building’s manager. “It’s been pretty traumatic for them.”
Steffen is concerned about what returning home will look like for the seniors once the evacuation order is rescinded.
With the power shut off for a week now, refrigerated food has spoiled and residents are triggering individual insurance claims to cover the costs of the lost food and even possibly the refrigerators themselves.
“I know in the past when there’s been fires and there’s been evacuations for any length of time, the guys come in with actual Hazmat suits and fly off these fridges and freezers and haul them away straight to the landfill,” Steffen said. “So they don’t try cleaning them because they’re full of mould or whatever is in them.”
Steffen said he’s concerned about the air quality inside the building.
“The toxins, the mould, lung infections, lung problems…we don’t know,” he said. “I’d like somebody to do an independent evaluation of the air quality in the building so there’s no mould spores and toxic things in the air.”
He’s also worried about the seniors having to pay deductibles as many are on fixed incomes.
“Who’s going to pay the $1,000 individual deductible?” he asked. “Each one of them is going to have to pay. None of this was their fault.”
Steffen said he hopes Mission Group, the development company behind the Brooklyn project, is among the groups that step up to help.
In an email to Global News, a Mission Group spokesperson said the company is very concerned about all the people impacted by the tragic event and that it is in direct contact with those people to better understand their short and long-term needs.
Steffen hopes the company comes through and helps in some capacity.
“I think it would just be the right thing to do,” Steffen said. “I’ve been in conversations with the representatives from Mission Group already and they have given us their intention that they will try to make everything right but I don’t know what that means.”
WorkSafeBC continues to investigate the deadly crane collapse but so far there’s no word on a cause.