When a relative in Texas told Isaiah Pinnock and Andrew Mitchell that people were displaced and without water for days after destructive snowstorms hit the Lone Star State, their hearts broke.
It was a “no-brainer” for the brothers-in-law to pack up Mr Mitchell’s GMC truck with supplies along with his wife, toddler son and Mr Pinnock as news reports and Facebook groups for plumbers alerted them of acute needs in Texas, Mr Pinnock told The Washington Post.
With Mr Mitchell in the driver’s seat, Mr Pinnock and Mr Mitchell’s wife, Kisha, who is Mr Pinnock’s sister, went along for the long ride from New Jersey to Texas, helping 2-year-old Blake fine-tune his alphabet recitation.
The family drove 25 hours straight to help restore broken pipes and to get water running in houses.
More than a million Texans are still going without drinking water, and more than 20,000 still have no running water at all following the snowstorms that knocked out power for millions and killed nearly 60 people. The necessary relief to help those still in the process of recuperating from the devastating and unexpected natural disaster has prompted Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, to issue a series of actions and announcements that include waiving certain regulations for some plumber apprentices to work without direct supervision and identifying 500 more licensees to help with plumbing problems.
Mr Abbott’s actions are aimed at a serious need, as many residents and business owners contend with busted pipes. Out-of-state plumbers such as Mr Mitchell and Mr Pinnock are more than welcome to travel to Texas to assist, said Frank Denton, chairman of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.
His agency has been working diligently, including weekend hours, to accelerate the approval process for non-Texan plumbers. Out-of-state craftsmen can submit an application that requires plumbers to provide their licensing information and insurance requirements that meet Texas state standards. Since the demand is so high for many residents, the board has been working to process the applications in less than a day, Mr Denton said.
“We are certainly inviting them to come to Texas. That’s for sure,” he said. “As a result, we’re trying to expedite and make it as seamless as possible.”
By the time Mr Pinnock, a plumbing apprentice, and master plumber
The word has spread about what the brothers-in-law are doing and plumbers throughout Texas and across state lines have offered to send supplies as they run out and people who have caught wind of their work through social media have offered financial help if they need.
The generosity from others allows Mr Pinnock and Mr Mitchell to better help families who aren’t able to afford the costly repairs needed to restore some order in their lives, Mr Pinnock said.
“A lot of people who go without water is because of financial reasons,” he said. “Yesterday, we went to a subdivision of very small houses and fixed income, and we could not feel right leaving them without running water.”
Mr Pinnock said he and Mr Mitchell coached “handyman uncles” and family members through repairs at about six homes in that neighborhood, leaving without much in their own pockets.
It’s still up in the air for when the family will leave as the lack of help keeps them busy with jobs and requests continue to come in from families who have been without water for more than a week.
“We can’t have those go unseen,” Mr Pinnock said. “Once those calls taper out, that might be around the time we head back.”