Plumbing

Snowstorms left Texas in want of plumbing. Brothers-in-law from New Jersey went to assist.

With Mitchell in the driver’s seat, Pinnock and Mitchell’s wife, Kisha, who is Pinnock’s sister, made the long journey from New Jersey to Texas helping 2-year-old Blake hone his alphabet recitation.

The family drove 25 hours in a row to repair broken pipes and get the water running in the houses.

More than a million Texans were still without drinking water as of Wednesday night, the Texas Tribune reported, and more than 20,000 still had no running water after the blizzards that turned off electricity for millions of people and killed nearly 60 people. To help those recovering from the storms, Governor Greg Abbott (R) has taken a number of steps, including waiving certain regulations for some apprentice plumbers to work without direct supervision and identifying 500 more licensees who should help with installation problems.

Abbott’s actions address a serious need as many local residents and business owners grapple with broken pipes. Out-of-state plumbers like Mitchell and Pinnock are welcome to travel to Texas to help, said Frank Denton, chairman of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.

His agency has been working diligently, including weekend hours, to expedite the approval process for non-Texan plumbers. Out of state plumbers can file an application that requires them to provide their license information and insurance coverage, which meets the standards of the state of Texas. Because the demand is so high, the board has worked to process the applications in less than a day, Denton said.

“We definitely invite you to come to Texas. That’s for sure, ”he said. “That’s why we’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible.”

By the time Pinnock, an apprentice plumber and master plumber Mitchell, arrived in Houston, another Pinnock sister who lives in town had already scheduled jobs for her and the gigs had started steadily, Pinnock said.

News of the brothers-in-law has spread, and plumbers across Texas and across state lines have offered to send supplies as soon as they run out. Other people who got wind of their work through social media have offered financial help when needed.

The generosity of others enables Pinnock and Mitchell to better serve families who cannot afford the costly repairs needed to restore order to their lives, Pinnock said.

“Many people who do without water have financial reasons,” he said. “Yesterday we went to a very small house and fixed income subdivision and we couldn’t feel right leaving them without running water.”

Pinnock said he and Mitchell trained “handyman uncles” and family members through repairs in about six homes in that neighborhood, without much in their own pockets.

It is still open when the family will leave as the lack of help keeps them busy with jobs and requests from families who have been without water for more than a week are still being received.

“We can’t make this invisible,” said Pinnock. “Once these calls are tapered, this could be about the time we return.”

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