75-year-old woman cuts off water for 2 years following expensive pipe burst in heart of Houston

Lileana Pearson Image
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Pipe burst forces 75-year-old to bathe in rainwater for 2 years
A good Samaritan tipped off ABC13 as the 75-year-old woman has been using runoff water after being quoted $7,000 for a full repair- a cost her fixed income does not cover.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A 75-year-old woman living in the heart of Houston had to resort to using rainwater for dishwashing and bathing following an expensive pipe burst, and her story was tipped to ABC13 by a good Samaritan.

"Almost helpless. She got to the point where she basically gave up," Albert Flores said.

Three blue barrels and two City of Houston trash cans sit under the roof of the north Houston home, collecting rainwater that runs off the house.

It is not a climate stance. The barrels collecting the runoff are necessary.

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"I know it's a hazard because what's coming in contact with the skin? What's in there? What's coming off the roof?" Flores said.

The issue sprung up in 2021.

The pipe connecting her home to the city water burst. Angelica Pena tells ABC13 she was quoted thousands for the fix. It's money she doesn't have living off a fixed income.

We asked Flores what $1,000 meant to this family.

"It's almost like a million dollars to anyone else. It's hard to reach," Flores said. "The mental anguish she is going through right now is difficult.

Pena and her caretaker, Jorge Lopez, also said that a plumber told them they could move the city water meter from the back of the property to the front to make the pipe fix easier but that moving the meter and reconnecting the home would cost $7,000.

Pena is paying around $26 a month to the city, which is the charge for installing a meter on the property.

"I knew I needed to bring it to the attention of somebody because I know that we're in the city of Houston in 2023. We can't have this going on," Flores said.

WATCH: Water leaks continue to be problem as summer months arrive

The City of Houston has been fighting water leaks in city pipes. While progress has been made, they're still behind.

The city told ABC13 they are aware of the issue, but fixing the pipe is a private matter, not a city matter, so there is little it can do.

The leak was so expensive that she resorted to shutting the water off and collecting rainwater.

Flores says with the fixes the family cannot afford, this was the only solution.

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