SW Side family without water for a week; Frozen pipes, cold weather leave Munguia's relying on neighbors

With the dangerous cold back again, problems caused by the bitter temperatures are persisting.
February 10, 2014 5:22:06 AM PST
This winter's excessive snow and brutal cold is putting our patience to the test, but it's causing an extra hardship for a family on the Southwest Side who has been without water for a week because their pipes are frozen.

In the meantime, they've been reaching out to the city for help.

Jaime Munguia and his family love their neighbors, in no small part because they've been helping supply the Munguia family with water for the last eight days. Jaime turned on the faucet a week ago this morning, nothing. Called the Water department. They came out the following evening. Worked on the water shut-off out front, concluded the line to the Munguia house was probably frozen, said they'd be back. But the week has passed. Still no water.

"Sometimes I have to wait for Dad to get home so we can go to the gym and shower," Jaime Munguia Jr. said.

That's a treat. Cause the rest of the time, it's the bucket brigade for rationed drinking, warm water sponge baths, and - well - the toilet.

"It's really not cool," said Sophia Munguia.

Definitely not cool. But more troubling to Jaime is having been told on several occasions that the crews were coming to fix things. But they didn't.

"I would understand that with a phone call, but they never call me," said Jaime Munguia. "I was the one that always put in my part calling them, but the answer were the same and nothing has happened."

We inquired about the Munguia's situation this afternoon, and a Water Management spokesman called back to say a crew was coming. And they did. Doing what they do for a frozen pipe. Set up cables to run an electrical current from the Buffalo box out front to inside the house. That'll typically unfreeze the pipe in short order. But tough luck. They couldn't get a connection out front. That means an emergency dig tomorrow morning.

"We're doing the best we can," said Victor Villasenor, Chicago Water Management. "I've got machine equipment breaking down. Trying to keep them up as best we can. It's a bad winter."

"I guess we're going to have to manage another day without water," said Jaime Munguia.

The Munguia family will be thrilled when the water finally returns.

"Of course, of course. Going to be taking some hot showers for sure," Jaime Munguia Jr. said.

A week ago, there were between 400 and 500 homes in Chicago without water - due to frozen or broken pipes. That number's been whittled down below 70. Most cities do not dispatch crews to service lines in private homes. Chicago does. Jaime applauds that but at the same time says a little more communication would be welcome.

The city's message - keep a faucet slightly open during extreme cold. A week ago, there were between 400 and 500 homes in Chicago without water - due to frozen or broken pipes. That number's been whittled down below 70. Most cities do not dispatch crews to service lines in private homes. Chicago does. Jaime applauds that but at the same time says a little more communication would be welcome.

The city's message is to keep a faucet slightly open during extreme cold.