Ralston residents grapple with no heat

WRBL Staff - COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Residents at Ralston Towers are receiving a bit of relief from the freezing temperatures inside their units.

As we reported Wednesday night, the Director of Inspections and Codes for Columbus has given Ralston management until Monday morning to resolve the issues that have left many residents in the cold. We spoke with him to find out more about the solutions to what has become an ongoing problem.

A METRA bus pulled in front of Ralston Towers over several hours to load residents bound for a local hotel. It's a temporary fix to the lack of heat and hot water that has many residents seeing red. John Hudgison, Director of Inspections and Codes for Columbus tells News 3 the steps management has taken to address the issues.

"Currently the owner is providing space heaters and we've also gone an extra step and the owner is also providing hotel rooms for them to stay at," says John Hudgison.

Nikita Nichols lives at Ralston Towers and while she says her experience has been different, she agrees that there are major problems in the building.

"I am a resident here and fortunately, I have heat in my unit. The heating is working sporadically throughout the building. Bottom line: the entire unit needs to be replaced," says Nikita Nichols.

So what's standing in the way of a permanent fix to the problems at Ralston?

"The new management staff we've worked with has been good to a point. But some things are out of their hands. Major maintenance issues like this is just something their maintenance crew is not able to handle," says Hudgison.

Taking it a step further, Hudgison says his conversations with the owners have been...

"...short and sweet. We just kinda get to the point where they know what the issues are-this is what we expect of them. Hopefully this deadline gives them another chance to get this right," says Hudgison.

Which is what the residents at the Ralston, many of whom are elderly and or living with medical conditions are asking of management.

"I'm comfortable...fortunately. But I do feel for anyone who has to face this cold tonight and I do hope and pray that they all can find shelter," says Nichols.

Mayor Tomlinson has also commented on the issues at Ralston, saying, the city is prepared to help the residents because they are citizens but the issue remains the responsibility of the owner.

News 3 tried speaking with the Ralston management again Thursday, but was told by security, that the media is not allowed on the property. Phone calls to the owners and management have yet to be returned.

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