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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Thursday marked day six without power for Jemeena Grimes and her family.
“Last night was hell and it’s going to be even colder tonight. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said.
Grimes has been without power in her third-floor Liberty City unit since Saturday.
She says it was cut off in retaliation for her speaking out against the living conditions at the apartment building at 1231 NW 61 Street.
“This is the worst living condition, I can’t even describe it,” Grimes said. “We live amongst rats, roaches, mold, and mildew. I have be hospitalized myself for mold poisoning. It’s despicable.”
Florida Power and Light says it didn’t cut the power to Grimes’ apartment.
In fact, the utility company says service to Grimes’ unit and more than half the others in the building has never been established.
Grimes admits she never paid FPL after initially trying to establish service when she moved in last year, but she says she did pay the property manager $40 to get the lights turned on.
FPL issued a statement earlier this week saying it was investigating, but that there appeared to be evidence of equipment tampering.
Grimes says a city inspector and an electrician were on site Wednesday.
She says they told her repairs needed to be made or power to the entire building would be cut by Friday.
That’s a big problem for David Brown, who relies on a dialysis machine.
“If they cut the power off, this automatically comes off,” he said pointing to the machine on his lap. “I have to go to the emergency room immediately.”
Grimes says a quick fix would cost about $2,200, but a more permanent solution would be much pricier.
“Full on repairs would cost at least $20,000 to $30,000,” Grimes said. “I’m at my wits end. It’s very frustrating.”
Grimes says the hot water has also been off since Wednesday for the entire building, but with colder temperatures on the way Grimes and her family were able to get a little relief from the cold.
Damion McKenzie saw their story and wanted to help. He offered to put the family up in a hotel Thursday night.
“I was starting to lose hope in humanity i really was,” said Grimes. “It’s just good to know theres a lot of good ones still left.”
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, they’ll stay warm on this cold night, but the questions remain: who’s responsible for the alleged meter tampering and what will happen to the rest of the building?
The building is owned by Miami Beverly LLC, the same company that owns a building that was the subject of another CBS 4 Housing Horrors investigation.
Mayor Tomas Regalado told CBS4’s Michelle Gillen the landlord should be in jail.
“Fix the place, this is what we want,” Regalado said. “We want the owners to fix the place so the tenants can live like human beings.”
Grimes has a message for her landlord, too.
“Come walk in my shoes. Seven days. Not even a month. Just seven days. Come walk in my shoes and see how much you like it,” Grimes said.
Multiple calls to the landlord and the property manager have not been returned.
Records show the city of Miami has filed a lawsuit against Miami Beverly LLC over multiple code violations and unpaid fines.
FPL said it would help tenants set up proper accounts once a licensed electricians make the necessary repairs. A group called Miami Workers Center is trying to help the residents repair the electrical meters.
They’ve set up a GoFundMe page to raise money. For more information, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/miamiworkerscenter.