Rochester, N.Y. – Five elderly women say they were forced to stand outside in Wednesday’s windstorm for more than an hour.
This happened at the Gates Walmart on Chili Avenue, when the 60-plus mile per hour high winds blew out the electricity.
It started off as a typical Walmart run for Deborah Archer, 62, and her 93-year-old friend, Lucile Good.
Archer went to the store to pick up her blood pressure and diabetes medications when the power was knocked out.
"They told us to stop shopping and bring whatever you had to the front," Archer said. “So me and Ms. Lucile go to sit down at Dunkin Donuts to wait for our Lyft Line bus to come pick us up. And this young man comes behind us, 'You have to leave; You have to leave right now.'"
“I said, ‘Well where am I supposed to stand? There's no other place for me to stand other than in the elements, where it's blowing - turning over tractor trailers,’" Archer said.
Archer said they weren't alone. Three other elderly women were also told to leave the store, one said to be in a wheelchair.
“And he’s clapping his hands, 'You have to leave!' and, I’m like, ‘Okay,'" she recalled.
“I just kept my mouth shut,” said Lucile Good. “I just prayed to God that I don’t get sick.”
Archer called LiftLine to pick them up early, but that wasn't happening. So the women tucked themselves in a corner outside the Walmart and waited an hour and a half for the bus to arrive.
“The wind is, like, brisk,” Archer said. “I’m 200-something, Ms. Lucile can’t be no more than a 110! She’s 4 feet tall! If the wind was moving me, my concern was where would it take her.”
“I was praying, please don’t let me get cold,” Good said. “I was praying, please, let me to come in, but it didn’t do no good though. I still stayed there, and I was freezing, too.”
The store manager let Good and one other woman into the entryway for about five to 10 minutes.
“You let two of the people in and left three of the other people still standing outside in this weather?” Archer said. “So how was there any right with that?”
Archer said, eventually, a passerby came along, took off her coat and laid it on the woman who was in a wheelchair. She said the woman also called police, who showed up shortly after to offer rides.
“'Do you want me to take you home? I’m not a cab service, but I can take you home,'” the Gates Police officer said, according to Archer. “By the time he finishes his sentence, my bus pulls up."
A bad day suddenly took a turn for the better.
“This should have never happened,” Archer said. “You don’t put elderly, disabled people out in the cold, Walmart, like that. You don’t do that."
“Their day is coming. But we just thank God we’re all OK and safe," she said.
Both Archer and Good said they will no longer shop at the Chili Ave Walmart. Archer filed a complaint with the store.
Tara Aston, a senior manager with Walmart media relations, sent a statement to 13WHAM News on Friday, saying:
“We have been in contact with these impacted customers and apologize for their experience that occurred during the store’s power outage. We take this matter very seriously and it is being addressed internally.”