Local News

Residents meet to explore legal options after evacuation from McDougald Terrace

Posted January 4, 2020 8:50 p.m. EST

McDougald Terrace residents are talking about their legal options.

Hundreds of people in the troubled housing complex evacuated their Durham homes on short notice Friday over concerns with carbon monoxide. One of those who had to evacuate was Mamie Beal, who needed to leave in a hurry after a decade in McDougald Terrace. She was part of a meeting held on Saturday to inform residents that was put on by Nana Asante-Smith, a community activist and attorney.

"We heard someone banging on the door ... knock, knock, knock, knock," Beal said. "It is an evacuation, an evacuation, everyone needs to leave."

McDougald Terrace in Durham

She was among about 340 people sent to hotels while officials try to determine what is causing carbon monoxide issues in the housing complex. Nearly a dozen people have gone to the hospital sick. Authorities want to know if recent infant deaths might also be connected.

Beal is concerned there is danger in her apartment.

"They did not tell us what the levels were in our apartment, but I do know when they got to my kitchen, one went off like it was a siren," Beal said. "Everything in my apartment running off gas was leaking."

Organizing residents has become more difficult because those most affected are now in hotels spread across the city. Asante-Smith's hope was to inform as many about what's going on and what needs to be done, including conducting an investigation on the Durham Housing Authority.

"There has been some sort of lapse in this community's commitment to the residents of McDougald Terrace," Asante-Smith said. "A thorough and meaningful investigation, and an honest investigation, takes place about what is going on here, and that has not happened yet."

"This is why we are here, to find out exactly what is going on," Beal said.

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