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City to turn of water to residents after utility apparently ruined their pipes

Sarah Wallace reports from St. Albans.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Residents of a neighborhood in Queens are furious and frustrated. Some have had their water cut off by the city and others face the same fate. It's because their pipes are damaged.

It just so happens right before the pipes went south a utility was digging up the street and asked for access to the basement.

Is it a coincidence? The families say no and they're facing thousands in repairs.

The homeowners Eyewitness News spoke to say they never had any problems with their water pipes until sledgehammers started breaking up their street. So, why are they being held responsible and being denied water in the middle of a heat wave?

"I'm living without water. I don't have any water at all," said Alvin Patterson, a resident.

Alvin Patterson has now been without water for more than a month. His supply was cut off by the city's Department of Environmental Protection because he hasn't been able to come up with $3,900 to fix a leaky water pipe leading into his house in St. Albans, Queens.

"I can't afford $3,900. My wife has just passed and it cost a lot of money for that. So right now, I don't have a dime for that," Patterson said.

Patterson's wife died of ovarian cancer in May, shortly before he got a notice from his utility company, National Grid, saying they wanted to improve gas service in the neighborhood.

They asked for access to basements and their subcontractor, Hallen Construction, started digging up the street.

Jillian Alfred lives next door to Patterson.

"Soon after water started to pour out of this yellow area in the front, just pour out and went into the drainage. That's basically what happened, the water just poured out, gushed out," Alfred said.

"How soon after they dug up the street did the water start coming out?" Eyewitness News Investigative reporter Sarah Wallace asked.

"Right after," Alfred said.

Alfred says she reported the problem and contacted National Grid.

"That it's not their fault. They're not at fault," Alfred said the company told her.

"They say it's not their problem. They're really passing the buck," Patterson said.

"I've been living in this home for 12 years, never did we have any kind of problem like this before they started digging up the street," Alfred said.

The neighbors both say that a representative from Hallen, the subcontractor, told them they'd have to pay for a plumber up front, costing $3,900, and the company would determine later if the problem was the firm's responsibility.

Some residents in the area paid, but like Patterson, Alfred doesn't have that kind of money and the DEP is scheduled to cut off her water supply Wednesday.

"It will be difficult for me especially because I'm disabled. It's difficult for me to get around so I can't even dream of going somewhere else," Alfred said.

Patterson, an overnight cleaner for the Transit Authority, sometimes showers at his mom's house.

"It's very horrible. What I do, I have water that I keep upstairs. I can take a little bird bath before I go to work. Otherwise I got to my mom's house before I got to work and that's how it's going really right now," Patterson said.

"I feel disgusted. But in my heart I have faith that somebody has to understand that this is not right. And somebody has to speak up in the neighborhood to say this is not right. You don't just come in people's neighborhood and destroy their home and leave," Alfred said.

A National Grid spokesperson told Eyewitness News they are willing to do whatever they can to help, but no one gave us specifics on what exactly that means.

The homeowners just want running water and not to pay for someone else's mistake.
Related Topics:
home water national grid St. Albans
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