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Public Works says it restored water late Saturday to Poe Homes in West Baltimore

The Department of Public Works said it had restored water to the Poe Homes Saturday evening after residents went more than five days without.

DPW spokesman Jeffrey Raymond said water pressure was low in some units and that it would take time for the water to travel through the pipes.

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“It’s a trickle,” said Leslie Ware, president of the tenant council, on Saturday night.

It would not be enough to flush a toilet, he said. Water pressure was even lower on second floor units he had visited.

City workers have grappled with how to repair a cascading series of failures after a Monday water main break that’s caused disruption and difficulties for those living in the West Baltimore public housing complex.

Resident Shawna Hudnall said she’d been posting this week about the water outage on Facebook — how she and her three small children struggled to cope with daily life with no flushing toilets and no working faucets to wash bodies, clothes and dishes.

“It kinda sucks,” Hudnall said.

The situation has prompted an outpouring of help from different groups, including donations of food and water. Neighboring University of Maryland opened up their dorm bathrooms for residents to take showers, and volunteers grilled hot dogs and passed out chips and sandwiches to residents unable to cook meals in their kitchens.

“After a while it becomes inhumane,” said Sonia Eaddy, president of the Poppleton community association, as she and other volunteers struggled Saturday to make sure all the residents of Poe Homes’ 300 units received bottles of water and other supplies.

City Council President Brandon Scott and other council members came by to check on residents and help unload cases of water.

Scott said he was sympathetic to residents’ frustrations, and said this “is something that shouldn’t happen in a major American city.”

Residents at Poe Homes in West baltimore have been living without adequate running water for almost a full week. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun video)

Department of Public Works employees thought they’d solved the problem temporarily when they installed a new water main bypass Friday. But they quickly learned their fix was unsuccessful.

A second bypass was being installed on Saratoga Street Saturday, Raymond said. He hoped full water pressure would be restored by Sunday morning.

He said public works is dealing with “old pipes and old infrastructure that’s not behaving like we want it to.”

Meanwhile, Poe Homes residents have gone nearly a week without being able to regularly flush their toilets, take showers or drink water from the tap.

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City posted a video Saturday afternoon of Neea Reid, Poe Tenant Council vice president, saying residents weren’t “exactly sure what’s going on.” She advised tenants to spend the weekend elsewhere, if they’re able.

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“If you want to stay home, we’re going to try to make sure you’re good, make sure you have food, make sure you have water to flush your toilets,” she said in the video.

Several residents suggested they should be offered hotel rooms if the water is not restored.

Ingrid Antonio, a spokeswoman for the housing authority, said there were no immediate plans to do so but that the agency “will consider alternate plans.”

The city’s housing authority and DPW are providing bottled water to Poe Homes residents, as is the Community Engagement Center of the University of Maryland, Baltimore. The nearby Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum is collecting wet wipes, hand sanitizer and water jugs for tenants.

The water outage at Poe Homes is completely unacceptable. I visited with residents and members of my senior staff are...

Posted by Bernard C. "Jack" Young on Friday, June 21, 2019

The city also is arranging for portable toilets to be stationed at Lexington and Saratoga streets, according to a Facebook post from Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young. He said portable showers and a portable laundry facility are available on Poppleton Street.

Young called the water outage “completely unacceptable.”

The housing authority has established a 24-hour emergency number for residents at 410-669-2290, Young wrote.

“I want to apologize to the residents of Poe Homes,” Young wrote. “Our employees will not rest until this situation is fixed and water service is fully restored.”

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