Safety issues prompt mandatory evacuation order at Crystal Lake Apartments in Macon

A mandatory evacuation ordered Friday afternoon of some buildings at Crystal Lake Apartments indefinitely displaces about 70 residents.

The evacuation comes on the heels of a review of the apartment complex by the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department and Code Enforcement after complaints about safety and the lack of water and electricity to several of the buildings, according to a news release.

Deemed unsafe, affected buildings are to remain closed until after repairs and a subsequent review deems them safe.

“The electrical and life safety systems in these buildings have been disabled and cannot be repaired in a short amount of time, making them unsafe for people to occupy,” Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said in the release. “Until those systems can be repaired, we can’t open the building.”

Pooled water around electrical systems and exterior stairs also created safety issues.

Management is working to have electricians make necessary repairs Saturday, with Macon-Bibb County fire and code inspectors standing by, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said Saturday.

Displaced residents were encouraged Friday to stay with friends and family while repairs are made. Those unable to find a place to stay overnight were directed to Salvation Army Headquarters at 1955 Broadway. Community members also stepped up to provide hotel rooms for those displaced.

Saturday, Macon-Bibb County opened Memorial Gym on Second Street for displaced residents, with all other activities canceled at the gym.

“This is a place displaced residents can relax, get breakfast and lunch, and give their kids something to do,” Macon-Bibb County tweeted.

The American Red Cross is providing meals and cots at the gym, he said.

“We are making this decision to make sure people are in safe and warm accommodations, and to make sure repairs are made before anyone is allowed to occupy these buildings again,” Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert said in the release. “We know this move will be hard on families, but we would rather they be inconvenienced than injured.”

Becky Purser has covered breaking news as well as crime and courts primarily in Houston and Peach counties for The Telegraph. She’s now exploring topics that impact the lives of children, parents and the family. A graduate of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville with a bachelor’s degree in communications/news-editorial sequence, Becky also has covered city and county government for Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia newspapers.
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