Winter storm recovery: plumbing supplies are running out, families try to rebuild their lives

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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Texas is now entering week two of recovery efforts after the winter storm.

In a briefing with President Joe Biden, Harris County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan said in initial reports that 10,400 county residents reported broken pipes that have damaged their homes.

Andrew Mitchell and his brother-in-law Isaiah Pinnock of Mitchell’s Plumbing & Heating, LLC traveled from New Jersey to help with repairs for families in the Houston area.

“The major problem is that they don’t have any water at all. So what we try to do when we go to someone’s house [is] we leave them with water, and we do our best to make sure everything works, ”Mitchell said. “Of the 60+ people, it’s three [people] to which we must return. “

The duo said they worked continuously for seven consecutive days. Mitchell said they’ve had instances where they’ve had to fix mistakes a previous plumber made while trying to fix the house.

He also said plumbing supplies were low and prices had skyrocketed.

“This copper [pipe] is gold, ”Pinnock said.“ This is up 600% right now. We are really there to help people get out of a crisis, but what we notice is that there are people out there trying to take advantage of people in their desperation. We’ve seen plumbing supply warehouses raise these prices to an unbelievably high level that I’ve never even seen up close, and that really makes the relief effort that much harder. “

Mitchell and Pinnock both said they saw many problems with poor insulation and homes that were not prepared for the elements.

“I would like to stress the fact that I would like all homeowners to know that you have a water shutoff valve for your home,” Pinnock said. “This is crucial information that would have saved the many, many homeowners we have visited so far thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in property damage.”

Houston mother Monica Ware first spoke to ABC13 last Sunday, walking through her flooded rental home that was damaged by broken pipes. Ware, her husband and their four children, aged 3 to 10, have been staying in a hotel for two weeks now.

SEE ALSO: Houston mom of 4 spends savings on hotel after her house is destroyed

Ware said his landlord told them repairs to the house were done by a plumber overnight. When Ware and her husband checked the house, there was an additional leak which caused part of the ceiling to crack that was not yet damaged.

“It wasn’t salvageable. Here we go,” Ware said. “The beds had to be thrown out. The trash cans came for them. Their mattresses, their bed, their clothes, their shoes, their toys, everything.”

Ware tried every means to get help. She applied to the FEMA Assistance Program, which claimed her family of six was entitled to about $ 1,700 to replace all of their belongings, with no date for when that money would arrive.

ABC13 viewers came together to help the Ware family, donating over $ 6,000 to Page Gofundme, which provided her children with clothes, paid for their hotel stay and helped the family to find a new rental home nearby.

“We can get out of the hotel. They can be kids and run around and have fun,” Ware said. “It is greatly appreciated, but more importantly, your prayers are the most precious things you have given us, because in a prayer, no one can take it from you. No one can oppose it. So for them in praying, it meant the world to us. “

Although the family still have no beds or furniture, Ware said she plans to reimburse and help families who are forced to rebuild their lives, just like hers.

“Hold your head up. Ask for prayers. Try to stay positive,” Ware said. “I collapsed when they [her children] weren’t there of course, but stay on FEMA and don’t be afraid to get help. “

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