CHICAGO (CBS) — For nearly two weeks, residents of an apartment building in Englewood went without running water despite dozens of phone calls to the city and the management company.
As reported by CBS 2 political investigator Dana Kozlov, a plumber who worked in a hole dug next to the building at 7441 S. Harvard Ave. said Tuesday afternoon that water service would soon return. Shortly after, the water started to flow again.
But it took 12 days for that to happen. This duration created a difficult situation for people living in the building and raised questions about why it took so long.
“No water at all,” Erica Pugh said earlier Tuesday as she turned the handles on her sink faucet and nothing happened.
Pugh said that’s been the situation in his flat since July 21 – no running water at all.
“We contacted 311, the building owner, the building manager,” Pugh said.
Franchon Whiting – another resident of the building who has six children – also called.
“I had told the city why exactly we don’t have running water,” Whiting said. “We can’t wash our dishes. We can’t wash ourselves. We can’t take showers – anything.”
Within days of their initial calls to management company Home365 – days – a plumber finally showed up at the Englewood building. Pugh said he dug a hole to work in, then left.
“We only have contact with the manager, and his response was, ‘We’re trying our best,'” Pugh said.
The plumber returned on Tuesday and said a broken water main was the cause of the outage. But the plumber said that in order for him to do the job, the city had to cut out a broken Buffalo box – which houses the water main’s shutoff valve.
In the meantime, before the plumber returned, the hole in the front yard filled with water. And the city didn’t come out for a week.
Inside the building, residents were forced to fill buckets and bottles with water – or buy it themselves.
“Go to the neighbour’s, get water, like crossing the street — or we buy liters of water, bottles of water — and we use it,” Pugh said.
Whiting said the water outage also disrupted his budget.
“I have to spend pretty much what I was supposed to buy to buy water which is essential for the household,” Whiting said.
The management company never took any action to accommodate residents, according to Whiting.
“Not at all – no water, no gallons of water, no hotel vouchers – nothing,” she said.
Part of the problem may have been because the original 311 calls were labeled as a plumbing issue rather than a non-water emergency. A plumbing violation gives the city 30 days to respond.
Pugh, who has four young children who had to stay elsewhere during the outage. She does not understand how the 311 operators can make such a mistake.
“I said, ‘No water, no working toilets,'” she said.
There is still no explanation why the issue was not resolved sooner.
“The building manager never showed up here,” Pugh said. “I never came to see what we’re going through.”
The plumber declined to be interviewed on Tuesday. And despite 11 days without water, Whiting said Home365 still wanted his rent money.
“Then they send you emails saying, ‘We’ll honor your prompt payment due on the 1st,’ but we don’t get water,” she said.
Kozlov contacted Home365 several times – leaving them several messages and trying several different prompts in an effort to speak with a human, and find out why it took so long and why it didn’t seem like a top priority.
Kozlov had yet to speak to anyone from Home365 on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Department of Buildings said Monday that after an inspector walked out, they filed an expedited lawsuit in court. It was unclear whether the legal action would go ahead as service was restored on Tuesday evening.