CHICAGO (CBS) – For nearly two weeks, residents of a building in Englewood had no running water despite dozens of phone calls to the city and management company.
As CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported, a plumber was working in a hole dug next to a building at 7441 S. Harvard Ave. said Tuesday afternoon that water service will be back up and running soon. Soon, the water started flowing again.
But it took 12 days for that to happen. That period of time created a difficult situation for those living in the building and raised the question of why it took so long.
“There’s no water,” Erica Pugh said earlier on Tuesday as she turned the faucet handle on her bathroom sink and nothing happened.
Pugh says that’s been the situation in her apartment since July 21 – no running water.
“We contacted 311, the building owner, the building manager,” Pugh said.
Franchon Whiting – another resident of the building with six children – calls it the same.
“I told the city the exact reason we didn’t have running water,” Whiting said. “We can’t wash our dishes. We can’t wash. We can’t help but shower – whatever.”
A few days after their first call to the management company Home365 – day – a plumber finally showed up at the Englewood building. Pugh said he dug a hole to work, and then left.
“We just contacted the manager and his response was ‘We’re doing the best we can,'” Pugh said.
The plumber returned on Tuesday and said a water problem was the cause of the power outage. But the plumber said in order for him to get the job done, the city had to cut out a broken Buffalo box that contained the shut-off valve for the water line.
While waiting before the plumber returned, the hole in the front yard was filled with water. And the city didn’t come out for another week.
Inside the building, residents are forced to fill buckets and bottles with water — or buy their own.
“Going to a neighbor’s house, getting water, is like crossing the street — or we buy gallons of water, water bottles — and we use it,” says Pugh.
Whiting said the water outage has also disrupted her budget.
“I had to spend quite a bit on what I was supposed to buy food for some water needed for the family,” says Whiting.
According to Whiting, the management company has never taken any action to meet the needs of residents.
“Not at all – no water, no gallons of water, no hotel vouchers – not anything,” she said.
Part of the problem may be that the 311’s initial calls were labeled as a plumbing problem – rather than a no water emergency. A plumbing breach gives the city 30 days to respond.
Pugh, who has four young children, who had to stay elsewhere during the power outage. She didn’t understand how 311 callers could make such a mistake.
“I said, ‘No water, no working toilet,'” she said.
There is still no explanation as to why the problem was not resolved more quickly.
“The building manager never showed up here,” Pugh said. “He never came to see what we were going through.”
The plumber declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. And despite 11 days without water, Whiting said Home365 still wants to pay for the rental.
“Then they send you an email saying ‘We’ll honor your prompt payment due on day 1,’ but we won’t get the water,” she said.
Kozlov is in constant contact with Home365 – leave them several messages and try several different prompts in an attempt to speak to a human and find out why this is taking so long and why it doesn’t seem to be a top priority.
Kozlov has yet to speak to a person from Home365 as of late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Buildings said on Monday, after an inspector came out, it filed a expedited application to the court. It is unclear whether the court action will be continued as service was restored late Tuesday.