FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Lina Marquez was walking her two dogs in Fort Lauderdale when she heard something cracked behind her. She saw a utility pole falling over her. She ran and screamed at the same time.
“I could have been crushed and hurt pretty bad,” Marquez said.
Tom Russell, who lives near the pole on Southwest 12th Court, said he ran out to investigate. when he saw Marquez, they were both scared. The pole had a transformer.
“I heard a loud crack and at that point, I realized this is not a palm,” Russell said.
It was one of the dozens of utility poles that residents of Fort Lauderdale’s Citrus Isle neighborhood say have become a safety hazard. This is of special concern as hurricane season is just around the corner.
AT&T owns the damaged pole. It had a transformer because Florida Power & Light also uses it. It had snapped at the base. Nothing hit it. It was just old.
John Chidsey, a Citrus Isle resident, said he noticed the wear and tear in one of the poles and identified it as a safety hazard since he moved into the neighborhood.
Chidsey said he was tired of complaining about it. Finally, four months ago, he said inspectors responded to his countless attempts to prevent a tragedy.
“They looked at it, said there was nothing wrong with the pole, ‘It is safe.’ I said, ‘I disagree! It is rotted at the top, rotted at the bottom, birds are living in the center of it,” Chidsey said.
Residents said birds have been using the pole as a shelter since the late 1950s. Chidsey said he learned FPL is only allowed to replace the AT&T pole if a collapse happens.
“I am just disappointed that there is an entity in this country that can allow such a serious life safety issue to just go on and ignore it,” Chidsey said.
Russell showed another damaged pole to an FPL representative and he agreed the AT&T pole was rotten and hollow but didn’t tell him if it was going to be replaced.
AT&T released a statement saying the pole that fell down had been replaced and they were working to remove other damaged poles as quickly as possible.
Russel is worried that no one is willing to address the safety concern to prevent damage during hurricane season, which begins next Tuesday.
“If this goes down in the right direction, it will hit the house,” Russell said.
Does your neighborhood have this problem?
If so, share a picture or a video of the utility pole and its location with Local 10 News Investigative Reporter Jeff Weinsier at JWeinsier@Local10News.com