BALTIMORE — "It's like you're homeless in your own home," said a Poe Homes resident.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City called it an emergency situation. Even with a temporary bypass for the main break, many still have little to no water pressure. The sewage stench is continuous and almost unbearable as many people move into day eight without running water.
"It is ridiculous. It is sad. It's inhumane," said resident Vivian Horne.
People have been living off of water bottles and mobile showers since the water main break last Monday just blocks from the complex.
"You get tired of washing up in a bucket. You get tired of washing up in a sink. You're just tired of brushing your teeth out of a bottle of water. It's just sad. It's crazy," said a resident.
"There's been a sense of cascading failures out there, and it's more than any of us anticipated or even expected," said HABC's acting communications director Ingrid Antonio. "We do not expect our residents to live like this. They can no longer live like this."
She said HABC is distributing water, buckets and making wellness checks. They also held a residents-only meeting Monday where they went over other options. People who have absolutely no water service can be relocated to a hotel and crews will be going into apartments to replace toilets. HABC just installed all new energy efficient toilets two weeks ago but they are sensitive to the water pressure drop, so they are replacing them with low flow conventional toilets.
"These new installations are going to help, as water begins to fill up the pipes, to help residents to flush and not have a back up," said Antonio.
Still, it makes little difference for those without running water. They want help and say it's a little too late.
"I have a 1 year old. It's horrible," said Shanel Carter.
"Water is not a luxury. It is a necessity," said Horne.
Instead of focusing on a permanent solution, DPW is working with HABC visiting apartments to figure out what failures still exist and how they can get everyone adequate water pressure using the temporary bypass. Some folks do have water service restored and some have brown water running to their home.
City Council members have called DPW to a hearing at City Hall to explain how serious water outages will be handled in the future.
HABC has started a 24-hour emergency line for residents (410-669-2290) and is offering transportation to UMB's recreational center so people can use their showers.