PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Veterans living in a cold building with no hot water at Bay Pines are being moved.
Nearly two weeks after Target 8 exposed that veterans living in building 102 have been without heat or hot water since September, the VA agreed to move them to the main hospital or building 100.
Congressman Gus Bilirakis told us he was very concerned about tonight’s expected extreme cold and veterans staying in a heatless building with only space heaters to keep them warm.
Mr. Bilirakis said he contacted Bay Pines and strongly urged it to move the veterans to an area where they can be warm.
Meanwhile, efforts are underway to provide working heat and hot water in building 102.
A steam line feeding the building broke in September, leaving veterans with cold showers and no real heating system.
The lack of heat has Florida Congressman Dennis Ross steamed.
Ross sent a fiery letter Tuesday to the VA Secretary demanding answers and blasting the terrible conditions at Bay Pines as “unacceptable, deplorable and gravely disappointing.”
The VA warmed up the place last week for a visit from Congressman Bilirakis. A few days later, a photo showed VA employees huddled under blankets in the still shivery structure.
“Not to have the heat in the common areas and then in the rooms, the bedrooms, is inexcusable, no question,” said Congressman Bilirakis.
The VA claims temporary repairs to the steam line failed. According to Medical Center Director Suzanne Klinker, a contract for a permanent fix was approved the evening of January 5. That happened to be the same night our first report aired about this polar-like predicament.
“It’s a 90-day timeline with 30 days for fabrication and 60 days for installation for the permanent steam line,” Ms. Klinker told News Channel 8.
Information we received from Congressman Bilirakis’ office says if all goes according to plan, veterans will have hot water in building 102 by Friday and working heat by Saturday.
“The money is there to get it done and it needs to get done as soon as possible,” asserted Congressman Bilirakis.
In the meantime, veterans are being moved to building 100 where they will spend nights, be warm and have access to hot showers.