'We are thankful': Action 13 report propels Hitchcock complex to replace broken A/C units

Hitchcock police Chief Wilmon Smith advocated on behalf of Independent Missionary Village residents, who were put up in a hotel.

Jessica Willey Image
Friday, August 4, 2023
Hitchcock police chief pushes for A/C repairs at local apartments
The police chief of Hitchcock, Texas Wilmon Smirh is pleading with local apartment management to fix A/C for residents in the heat.

HITCHCOCK, Texas (KTRK) -- Less than 24 hours after ABC13 was at an apartment complex, where half a dozen units were without air conditioning, new units were being installed.

The video above is from the original report.

Hitchcock police Chief Wilmon Smith shared photographs with Action 13, showing the new units going in Friday morning. Residents said their air conditioning had been out for weeks. This week, Smith and the city of Hitchcock got involved.

"My concern is the public safety concern. It should not take someone becoming a heat casualty to get the attention of the management here," Smith said, speaking in front of the management office at the Independent Missionary Village Apartments at 6607 Prino Road on Thursday evening. "This heat can kill."

Before Friday, residents showed ABC13 how they were rigging their apartments to stay cool.

To cope, Walter Chapman was running fans. He bought a portable A/C unit at a pawn shop and hung a blanket as a barrier to help keep the cooler air in the bedrooms where his 1-year-old daughter spends most of her time.

RELATED: Great-grandparents 'literally staying inside an oven' die after their Baytown home's A/C fails

Smith said there were at least six apartments without air conditioning amid a heat index reaching 106 degrees on Thursday.

Chief Wilmon Smith provided photos on Friday of the work in progress to fix air-conditioning units at the Independent Missionary Village Apartments in Hitchcock.

Smith said he made calls earlier in the week and sent a letter on Thursday to apartment management, pleading with them to either make repairs or find other solutions.

"Why not provide them accommodations? Why should it be on them (residents) to provide the accommodations while they get their act together?" Smith asked, referring to hotel vouchers.

Instead, the city of Hitchcock provided hotel rooms for the residents Thursday night.

"The kids were able to play in the pool and cool off," Smith said Friday. "We are thankful for everyone who is helping."

RELATED: Extreme heat impacts your AC unit's ability to keep your home cool, technicians say

A spokesperson for Royal American Management, the company that manages the property responded to questions in an email on Thursday.

"We are aware of the air conditioning issue at Independent Missionary Village. We ordered the necessary parts to make repairs, and we have provided window ac units for residents who are without air conditioning," wrote Amy Ausley, vice president of Business Development and Communications. "The central AC should be repaired by Friday, Saturday at the latest."

Smith said he got involved to help people who might feel powerless.

RELATED: How extreme heat disproportionately impacts low-income families and communities of color in Houston

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