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)
After five days without regular water access, residents of the Poe Homes public housing complex in West Baltimore received a letter Friday advising them to stay with relatives, as the problems might persist over the weekend.
The latest problem is another broken valve discovered after other repairs had been made.
For many residents, such as 31-year-old Calvin Smith, going elsewhere simply isn’t possible.
“It’s just so nonchalant,” he said. “That’s how I feel that they feel: It ain’t my problem.”
For Smith and his wife, five days without normal running water has meant constant difficulties. Now the water is trickling out of the faucets, but the toilet still does not flush.
“I put gloves on, and I take a market bag and literally I’m digging urine and feces with toilet paper out of the toilet, putting it in the bag, walking to the dumpster,” he said.
The city’s Department of Public Works has placed piping above ground, bypassing the broken underground pipes, to provide limited water access, department spokesman Jeff Raymond said. But problems with water volume and pressure have made the bypass piping less effective.
A break on North Schroeder Street forced the department to shut down a large 20-inch water main, DPW said in one post, leaving about 1,000 water services without water.
“Water service was restored to the majority of services by Wednesday night,” the post read. “But DPW found out since then that at least one valve, controlling water flow to Poe Homes, broke in the closed position after the water main break had been repaired.
“This is a complex situation,” the post continued, “and repairs have not been easy. A 6-inch main broke overnight as we were attempting to replace a valve.”
In a subsequent post, DPW said work to repair than main Friday did not restore water to all Poe Homes residents.
“This evening, DPW contractors are preparing to install a bypass system to restore stronger water pressure to all impacted residents,” the post said. “DPW contractors are continuing to make needed water infrastructure repairs.”
While the problems continue, 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 university’s fitness facility is offering free showers until 6 p.m. Friday.