For the past two years, Angelica Pena, a 75-year-old woman living in the heart of Houston, has been using rainwater for dishwashing and bathing after a pipe burst in her home and left her without running water.
The pipe that connects her home to the city water system broke in 2021, and she was quoted $7,000 for the repair, a cost that her fixed income does not cover. She has been paying around $26 a month to the city for installing a meter on her property, but she has not been able to use the water.
“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,” said Albert Flores, a good Samaritan who tipped off ABC13 about Ms. Pena’s situation.
Ms. Pena and her caretaker, Jorge Lopez, have been collecting rainwater from the roof of their house in three blue barrels and two city trash cans. They use the water for washing dishes, clothes and themselves. They also buy bottled water for drinking and cooking.
“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?” Mr. Flores said.
The city of Houston said that fixing the pipe is a private matter, not a city matter, and that there is little it can do to help Ms. Pena. The city has been struggling with water leaks in its own pipes, especially after the winter storm in February that caused widespread damage and disruption.
Ms. Pena said she hopes to get her water back soon, but she does not know how to afford the repair. She said she is grateful for the support she has received from Mr. Flores and others who have heard about her story.
“I’m very thankful for them,” she said. “They’re very kind people.”
- Houston woman uses rainwater after pipe burst| Houston Chronicle| May 13, 2023
- How to help Houston woman living without water for 2 years| KHOU11| May 14, 2023
- Houston woman bathes with rainwater after pipe burst| Fox News| May 12, 2023