Displaced Joliet seniors given green light to move back to Joshua Arms housing

Joliet — Residents of the Joshua Arms Senior Residences in Joliet have been given approval to move back into their apartments this week after an incident that shorted-out power in the building for two and a half weeks.

“We’ve been working really closely with the city of Joliet and ComEd to get the problem fixed,” said Barb Haley, the senior director of communications for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, which owns the facility. “All the wiring was finished Monday in the building. We just needed ComEd to shut down the power so we could reconnect everything and start it back up for testing.”

On May 12, a leaky pipe in one of the facility’s apartments burst, causing water damage and an electrical short, which resulted in a small fire and significant damage to an electrical panel.

Haley said at the time that parts needed to be ordered to replace the damaged equipment and, after the first night without power, residents were relocated to local hotels or to stay with friends or family temporarily. About 40 residents who need extra daily assistance were moved to other senior residences or nursing homes immediately after the power failure.

“The power is back on in the building and has been running for several hours,” Haley confirmed Tuesday afternoon. “Staff will be going into individual apartments and turning on appliances for the rest of the day to make sure everything is working properly.”

Although it initially was unclear how long the testing process would take, Haley told The Herald-News just before 5 p.m. Tuesday that everything was in working order and residents would be allowed to begin moving back in Wednesday.

“We expect it will take about two days to move back in,” Haley said, noting that buses had been arranged to transport seniors without cars from hotels and nursing homes back to their apartments.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois has been in touch with all 224 displaced residents every few days since the incident occurred to provide updates, Haley said, although the organization was hesitant to provide an exact move back date before it was certain so as not to “raise expectations unnecessarily before we were sure.”

The seniors were given an opportunity early in the process to return to their apartments and retrieve clothing and essentials and have been provided two meals per day at their hotel accommodations through a partnership between LSSI and The Salvation Army of Joliet.