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Water & Power Back On, But No A/C For Miami High-Rise Residents

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — After more than two days the lights and the water are back on at The Venetia Condominiums in Miami, but the air conditioning still doesn't work.

"It's progress," said resident Carole Engels who said the past few days had been difficult. "It's just really hot, no air conditioner no water, so I have to go to someone else's house to take a shower which is a disaster or get like jugs of water so I can brush teeth."

Some people said temperatures inside their homes had risen into the upper 80's.

"I spent the night here last night and it was a living hell," said Eve Yanofsky.

The problems began Monday night when a worker doing an emergency repair to an air-conditioning unit on the 11th floor broke a water pipe, according to the building's management.

The flood led to the blowout of an electrical transformer at the condo complex, located at 555 NE 15th Street, at the foot of the Venetian Causeway.

According to resident Andrea Vennetti, "The AC unit needed to be replaced and while changing it someone caught the water line. Then a flood started. So basically from the 11th floor all the way down to the first floor."

The water entered the box where all the cables run for the electricity, said Vennetti.

Vennetti and the other residents were told to look for temporary accommodations at hotels until the water and power can be restored and that their insurance companies would reimburse them.

"I don't know if they are going to pay for it," said Vennetti. "I really can't afford to stay in a hotel."

The residents who stayed said there is limited power for refrigerators and stoves. Adding to the headaches: elevators at the high-rise building didn't work until late Wednesday night.

For Jay Fields, who lives on the 21st floor, that means climbing up and down 21 flights of stairs.

Fields called the outages "a criminal act."

"There are a lot of elderly people in this building that have been here for a long time that have not been able to get out of their apartment," said Fields.

Fire Rescue crews had to take stretchers and equipment up more than 30 flights of stairs to respond to rescue calls. "These came in as serious medical calls. That's why extra resources were dispatched out here in the event we had to bring somebody down, lucky for us we did not have that," said Lt. Ignatius Carroll of Miami Fire Rescue.

Mike's bar, located at the high-rise, was affected as well. The Irish pub is known for promoting sporting events and had to close early.

The regulars at Mike's will likely miss more sports coverage, including the NFL's opening game Wednesday night. Firefighters say the 30 commercial businesses in the building all will remain closed
until everything is back to normal and that could take more than a week. After six p.m. Wednesday, FPL got the lights back on and after 10 p.m., the four residential elevators were up and running again, but it's unclear when the air conditioner will be back on.

CBS4 tried to contact management for information. Instead, they directed reporter David Sutta to leave the building.

That might be because they don't have any information. Paula, a woman visiting her sister, said she was told to expect a fix "by tonight, in a couple days, by today, by tomorrow."

Paula said she even had someone tell her "on Friday."

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