UPDATED 3/25: See latest info at the end of the article!
So wow what a bombshell Julie Camburn dropped at the end of Monday’s general EFCC meeting: 20 houses on Indian Queen Lane without water for, like, two weeks!
Apparently, a lateral line blew or something? And the Philadelphia Water Department says repairs are on the homeowners. Julie called for Council to take a stand against PWD for failing to install the pipes correctly in the first place 15 to 18 years ago, leading to the present hardship on these neighbors.
Who? What? Where? We asked around to try to figure out where these homes were, and get some more information. We soon spoke with Stacie Rogers at 3571 Indian Queen Lane — she and her three kids have been without water for 19 days to date.
According to Stacie, “The water department told us that since it wasn’t the main pipe, we’re responsible for it if it freezes and bursts. So they want us to get our own plumber and to pay for the permit to dig up the ground to get to the pipe.”
Stacie maintained, as Julie said, that when PWD put the pipe years back, they didn’t put it down far enough “to get below the freeze line.”
Stacie’s not sure how many of her neighbors have been affected — a leg infection has made it hard for her to get outside to keep informed. She knows she wasn’t the only one, but hasn’t heard how everyone else has been dealing (although she occupies a twin home, she doesn’t know if her attached neighbor has water or not).
Of course we followed up with the water company! Neither PWD representative we spoke with (Paul Fugazzotto & Laura Copeland) could tell us specifically how many Indian Queen Lane houses had experienced recent pipe issues — not everyone reports lateral line bursts, since they are the homeowner’s responsibility. Both agreed the number was about 4 to 6 homes.
Both also expressed dismay over how common burst pipes are during bitterly cold spells like we’ve had lately. PWD has sent out two inspectors already to check and double-check that IQL’s water main has not been damaged or compromised or rigged weird or anything (big surprise: they disagree the pipes were installed wrong).
After a thorough review when problems were first reported February 20th, PWD sent an additional team out to follow up on reports from Councilman Curtis Jones’ office about running water down Indian Queen Lane (determined to be snow melt).
Unfortunately for Stacie, PWD’s investigations indicate leaks in the lateral line leading from the property to the main line. By city code, the homeowner is responsible for such repairs.
With no running water, Stacie and her kids have been trying hard to maintain some sense of routine while missing such a basic necessity for daily living: laundromats, microwaved meals, showering at her mom’s.
And bottled water! A case of donated water she received is running low, but Stacie doesn’t have thousands of dollars on-hand to cover repairs to get her faucets going again.
For the sake of her children, she called DHS in case maybe she’d qualify for help but unfortunately she’s not eligible.
For cases of greater need, they suggested LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program), a federal grant program.
Before we fight PWD with politicians or shame them in the news, we’d like to find other Indian Queen Lane homeowners affected by the burst pipes. If this issue concerns you or someone you know: we’d love to talk to you, and hear more of this story.
We’re also scrambling to meet with Stacie again as soon as possible to better report her current needs and situation (and perhaps help her complete forms or file online).
Maybe we can crowd-source solutions from the community?
Seeking local plumbers and handy folks for advice and assistance. Businesses with supplies or resources. Neighbors offering respite or support for this East Falls family, dealt a rough blow this Winter.
If you can help Stacie: Give a shout in the comments below or on Facebook (or email us…), and we’ll put you guys in touch.
Please follow & share Stacie’s story of community support and creative thinking we’re hoping will soon emerge…
Thanks for your positive interest in East Falls!
UPDATE (3/12): Our scheduled interview for today with Stacie had to be postponed. She told us early this afternoon that she’s too sick to meet with us. We plan to contact her tomorrow to reschedule.
Since we were in the IQL vicinity when we spoke with her, we decided to knock on some doors to see if we could figure out exactly how many homes have been affected (the reports we’ve heard place it anywhere from 4 to 20).
We spoke with five residents in the immediate vicinity of Stacie’s home (a few doors away on either side of 3571 — unfortunately, no one was home on the other side of her twin, 3573).
None of the residents has experienced any water service disruption, or knew anyone besides Stacie who was out of water. One neighbor said she heard 11 homes had been affected but could not tell us which ones they were. Please let us know if you hear anything…
Dazed and Confused
We’d love to report that this issue has been resolved, but we’ve been unable to determine exactly what, if anything, has happened on IQL. And the mystery has only deepened in recent weeks.
We’ve been unable to reach Stacie Rogers, the one person who seems to have been affected. We left her a voicemail over a week ago offering help from neighbors (showers, laundry, bottled water) and information about public agencies that may be able to help, but have yet to receive a response.
We next reached out to Julie Camburn, who first announced that “10-20” houses were without water on IQL at the March EFCC meeting. (She’s been unable to provide any further information.)
Thanks to all the neighbors who have offered their support and good wishes. We’ll update our report if/when Stacie responds to us. In the meantime, perhaps we’ll hear more from the Fallser about this issue?