Families returning to housing complex after health concerns

February 15, 2020 GMT

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Families are returning to a North Carolina public housing community more than a month after officials evacuated hundreds of residents due to concerns about possible carbon monoxide exposure.

Six households returned Friday to McDougald Terrace, Durham’s largest and oldest public housing complex, The Herald-Sun reported. Durham Housing Authority CEO Anthony Scott said he expects more tenants to move back next week.

About 280 households have been staying at local hotels since Durham County officials reported in late December that residents were having breathing problems.

The housing authority blamed the problems on old gas stoves, heaters and water heaters. Scott said all gas stoves will eventually be replaced by electric stoves.

A neighborhood leader, Ashley Canady said she hopes the housing authority has made meaningful improvements to the 360-unit complex, which was built in the 1950s.

“Right now, I’m just taking it in stride and hoping they’re doing the right thing,” said Canady, president of the McDougald Terrace resident council.

In January, North Carolina’s state medical examiner’s office said it found no sign of carbon monoxide poisoning in the deaths of two infants at the complex. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said the two infants who lived in McDougald Terrace had tested negative for the gas.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and potentially poisonous gas that can cause illness and in cases of prolonged exposure, death, according to the Mayo Clinic.