Emergency meeting held regarding displaced Olbiston residents

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - State, county and local leaders held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to speed up the process of returning hundreds of displaced tenants to the fire-damaged Olbiston apartments in Utica, and assure that their daily needs are met until they can go back.

Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks said the sit-down came about after local Red Cross officials found their shelter stretched when many tenants who had been staying with friends and family came to stay with them.

"They were obviously running into sanitary problems - how to get their laundry done, concerned about their pets in this building, a number of people had severe emotional disorders that required counseling," said Chief Brooks, who added that, while fighting the fire and evacuating the tenants was a great challenge, the aftermath the Red Cross has to deal with is much more difficult.

On Thursday, city Municipal Housing officials were at Olbiston to see if any displaced tenants qualify for one of their apartments. The fire chief says issues regarding whether the building will have a fire alarm system or 24-hour security still need to be resolved and he isn't sure the goal set by some of getting residents back into the building by Monday will happen.

The city is holding a meeting with all the tenants on Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Resource Center for Independent Living, 1607 Genesee Street.

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