Since the air conditioning stopped working in her building at the Hollander Ridge apartments last week, Vivian Jarvis has followed the same routine almost continually: drink a little, sit in front of the fan, drink a little, sit in front of the fan, drink a little. . . .
"But it's still hot in here," Jarvis said today. "I'm doing everything that I can, but it's just been so hot lately."
Jarvis and more than 500 other residents of the 19-story building on Pulaski Highway near the Baltimore County line have sweltered in 90-degree temperatures since an electrical problem blew out the air conditioning last week.
What's making matters even hotter around the collar for residents is that although all of the 488 apartments are without air conditioning, the building's rental and staff offices are comfortably air conditioned.
"We have to suffer here night and day without air conditioning, while those who just come to work here for a few hours a day are cool and calm," said a resident who didn't want to identify herself.
Bill Toohey, a spokesman for the city housing authority, said the problem began last week when a worker short-circuited a portion of an electrical panel that included switches and controls for parts of the air conditioning.
Toohey said parts ordered to repair the air conditioning unit are scheduled to arrive tomorrow and he hopes to have the cooling system working by Tuesday.
"Unfortunately, we don't have a warehouse full of backup air conditioners," he said. "We have backup heating but no backup air conditioning."
He said the building's offices were not affected.
Residents, mostly seniors or disabled, are asked to congregate in the air conditioned first-floor common areas and in the basement where activities have been organized.
Jarvis, 79, said that besides drinking plenty of liquids she takes a cool bath several times a day.
"We had a little breather last night when the storm came up," Jarvis said. "People use fans a lot but that just blows hot air in."
The use of air conditioners at the Broadway, 201 N. Broadway, today caused a power failure at the 22-floor, 330-apartment building.
Toohey said window air conditioners caused the building's 500-ampere circuit breaker to trip.
"The building does not have air conditioning and was not made in anticipation of window units," Toohey said.
Toohey said it takes "some time" for the electrical system to be fixed each time it is tripped. He said residents of the building should set their units on low or gather in one air conditioned area.