Jacksonville senior center works to keep residents with heater issues warm as temperatures drop

As dangerously cold temperatures are expected to move in later Tuesday night and several warming centers throughout the city have opened, one Jacksonville woman was dealing with issues with her heat.

“When I wake up, I’m going to stay up with the heater and make sure that my brother’s warm and that I’m warm. And I’ve gotten a lot less sleep in the past couple of weeks,” Shirley Bocooks said.

Bocooks lives in the Riverton Town Senior Center in Arlington and said for about a month she’s had issues with her heating and air conditioning.

“There are about five, five or six people that don’t have heat still, heat or air. Air on the warm days. And it’s been four and a half weeks today,” she told News4JAX.

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News4JAX reached out to Ability Housing, the owners of Riverton Tower and was told that 90% of the building had their heat restored. The last 10% is taking longer than expected because of a pipe issue.

The building offered tenants heating towers while they worked to get the remaining units functional again. While Bocook said those heating towers are nice and brand new, there’s still one problem.

“They don’t cut on and off. So they run all night long on low or medium. So when you’re sleeping, if I sleep five hours, it’s going to heat the whole five hours,” she said.

For people like Bocook dealing with heat issues, Andre Ayoub, Chief of the Emergency Preparedness Division for the City of Jacksonville, said people have the option to go to the warming center located in the Legends Center on Soutel Drive.

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“When we talk about the vulnerable community, we’re talking about elderly, young children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic health conditions and also your homeless individuals that don’t have access to heat and blankets and so on and so forth,” Ayoub said.

JTA will offer free bus rides throughout the night to the Legends Center.

While the Legends Center is an option, for Bocook, she’s hoping to make the best of her situation in her apartment.

“I’m gonna pray and then my friend is going to bring over an electric blanket, so just hope we get through because it’ll be cold in the morning, too,” Bocook said.

The Riverton Tower spokesperson told News4JAx in an update that most of the remaining units now have some functionality with their heating systems. Crews are still working on the pipes this week to get all residents fully functional heat.

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