Gas service was restored at Baltimore’s Poe Homes public housing complex at 7 p.m. Monday, a spokesman for the housing authority said, after a two-day outage left residents unable to operate their stoves.
Baltimore Gas & Electric had to shut off gas service to the entire complex Saturday morning, affecting 279 occupied units, after a caller reported the odor of gas.
Officials determined the source was an underground leak at the center of the complex near its basketball court, and excavated mounds of dirt to address it.
Meanwhile, World Central Kitchen, a charity based in Washington, D.C., arranged for a food truck to dole out free meals for residents at lunchtime Sunday, and a catering company to provide boxed dinners.
All other utility services, such as hot water and electricity, weren’t affected by the outage, Housing Authority of Baltimore City spokeswoman Ingrid Antonio said at the time. Hot plates were made available for residents, too, she said.
City Councilman John Bullock, who represents the area, said the outage is emblematic of the impacts aging infrastructure are having on the neighborhood — and its most vulnerable residents in particular. In the summer of 2019, the complex lost water for about five days after a main break.
“These are things that obviously have to be addressed, and are really on the radar of the city, recognizing that we have not only older infrastructure, but housing that really isn’t befitting of what folks desire in the 21st century.”
Some residents said they’d traveled to the homes of friends or family members to cook over the weekend. Others weren’t so lucky, and relied on meals that didn’t require cooking on a stove.
Judi Wilkerson, a 78-year-old resident, said Sunday that she was most concerned about how large families would fare during the outage, and whether they’d be able to feed their children healthful meals.
“We’re doing what we can and making sandwiches,” she said. “The only thing I feel bad about is our children, because they don’t have what [they’re] supposed to have.”