Two days after electric, gas and water service was cut off to a Maryland apartment building -- forcing 77 families to move out suddenly, some in the dark -- a judge has ruled that families can move back in.
A judge filed an emergency order that lifted the eviction at Lynnhill Condominiums late Thursday.
State officials had joined the condominiums' new homeowners association in going to court to ask for the order. The condos were condemned Tuesday after the utilities were turned off; after that, residents were given three days to move out.
Lynnhill owes the utilities about $1.2 million in back bills. The condo association has alleged that a past management company was misusing residents' condo fees and failing to pay utility bills.
Though the complex is made up of condominiums, many of them have been rented out. Many of the residents have low incomes or are elderly and didn't know where they would go.
"We are frustrated, desperate -- we just need help," said Barbara Taha, a Lynnhill resident.
Residents had converged on the county office building earlier in the day, hoping for help from elected officials.
"We need some action. The lights are still out, it's cold the gas is off," Taha said.
The order doesn't mean that the utilities will come back on; the utility companies were not in court Thursday. That matter could be taken up by the court next week.
Meanwhile, community organizations and local businesses are trying to help the families affected.
Two moving companies donated their services. An apartment management company appeared Wednesday and waived application fees for apartments elsewhere in the county.
"We had to do what we could to make a difference," said Terry Epps, owner of Mess Movers.
To help the Lynnhill residents, click here and go to "Neighbors in Need."