Fort Lauderdale residents fear safety risks will turn into hurricane season nightmare

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. – Lina Marquez was walking her two dogs in Fort Lauderdale when she heard something creak behind her. She saw a power pole fall on her. She was running and screaming at the same time.

“I could have been crushed and injured quite badly,” Marquez said.

Tom Russell, who lives near the post on 12th Court South West, said he fled to investigate. when he saw Marquez, they were both scared. The pole had a transformer.

“I heard a loud cracking sound and at that moment I realized it wasn’t a palm tree,” Russell said.

FPL workers react after the AT&T-owned power pole recently spooked a woman in the Citrus Isles neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.)

It was one of dozens of utility poles that residents of the Citrus Isle neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale say have become a safety hazard. This is of particular concern as hurricane season is fast approaching.

AT&T owns the damaged pole. It had a transformer because Florida Power & Light also uses it. It had broken at the base. Nothing hit him. It was just old.

Residents of Citrus Isles have complained about unsafe utility poles they fear could cause tragedy during hurricane season. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.)

Citrus Isle resident John Chidsey said he noticed the wear and tear on one of the poles and identified it as a safety hazard since moving to the neighborhood.

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Chidsey said he was tired of complaining about it. Finally, four months ago, he said the inspectors had responded to his countless attempts to prevent a tragedy.

“They looked at it, said there was nothing wrong with the post, ‘Sure.’ I said, ‘I don’t agree! It’s rotten on top, rotten on the bottom, the birds live in the middle,'” Chidsey said.

Residents of Citrus Isles have complained about unsafe utility poles they fear could cause tragedy during hurricane season. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.)

Residents said the birds had used the pole for shelter since the late 1950s. Chidsey said he learned that FPL was only allowed to replace the AT&T pole if it collapsed.

“I’m just disappointed that there is an entity in this country that can allow such a serious life safety issue to continue and ignore it,” Chidsey said.

Russell showed another damaged pole to an FPL representative and he agreed that the AT&T pole was rotten and hollow but did not tell him if it was going to be replaced.

Residents of Citrus Isles have complained about unsafe utility poles they fear could cause tragedy during hurricane season. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.)

AT&T released a statement saying the fallen pole has been replaced and they are working to remove the other damaged poles as quickly as possible.

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Russel fears no one is prepared to address the security issue to avoid damage during hurricane season, which begins next Tuesday.

“If it’s going in the right direction, it will hit home,” Russell said.

Does your neighborhood have this problem?

If so, share a photo or video of the utility pole and its location with Local 10 News investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier at JWeinsier@Local10News.com

Copyright 2021 by WPLG Local10.com – All rights reserved.


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Susan W. Lloyd