DISABLED people say they had to climb flights of stairs in their tower block homes over the weekend after a lift broke down.
One angry resident of South Durham Court in Sunderland said it took him 90 minutes to walk up stairs to get to his 13th floor flat on Saturday afternoon.
Kevin Charlton, who suffers from heart problems and lung disease, had to entrust his front door key to strangers so they could fetch vital medication before he started on the gruelling climb.
The 56-year-old, who lives alone at the Gentoo high rise in Hendon, said: “I’ve got COPD and stents in my heart. I rang Gentoo and they said they would have to send the fire brigade out to carry me up the stairs.
“But you can’t call them out. What if there’s a fire somewhere else?
“They asked if I had anyone who would carry me upstairs. In the end, I had to give a stranger my house key to get my inhalers and heart meds.
“It took me an hour-and-a-half to climb 18 flights of stairs.” Mr Charlton, who drove heavy goods vehicles until he became too ill to work, added: “The lift that has broken down is only a few weeks old, but the lift is always going off, or the fire alarms.”
Residents say a second lift in the block was also out of order.
Another resident David Bainbridge said he was trapped in the lift for more than an hour.
The 55-year-old, who has spondylitis and walks with crutches, said: “Between floors four and six, there was an almighty shudder, as if the brakes had seized.
“It took about 35 minutes for the engineer to arrive. They managed to get the doors open about a foot and had to yank me through the gap. It was very painful.”
Gentoo were unavailable for comment yesterday.
The broken lift started working again yesterday afternoon.