COLUMBIA, S.C. — People across the Midlands are still struggling with broken pipes or low water pressure due to the recent cold weather.
"It came in so fast, I didn’t have a chance to do anything because it flooded," Rosewood Hills resident Belinda Baker remembers.
Baker says she was watching TV in her living room on Christmas Eve when she saw water rushing in from her patio. Immediately, she called Columbia Housing Authority.
"The calls have been tremendous to say the least," Columbia Housing CEO Yvonda Bean told me.
Bean says that the group has been out since Christmas Eve responding to calls about broken pipes.
"I hope soon they’ll be here to get everything straightened out," Carolyn Hill, another Rosewood Hills resident, says.
Hill lives in the unit below Belinda. While her pipes didn’t break, her apartment did get damaged due to issues in Belinda’s unit.
For now, the apartment installed a unit to remove the extra moisture.
For people like Shecrystal Richardson, flooding still hasn’t been fixed.
"My daughter and I heard the gurgling noises coming through the wall," Richardson explained.
Shecrystal lives at Harbour Landing. When a pipe burst in a vacant unit next to her, she had to call the fire department to shut off the water. Days later, it’s still not fixed.
"With my children we can’t even stay here because we don’t have running water, there’s dishes piled up in the sink, we can’t use the bathroom, we can’t shower, we can't eat, and we cant even keep warm because we don’t have heat so we basically can’t live in this situation," Shecrystal detailed. "It’s unlivable."
We reached out to Harbour Landing’s apartment management company. As of the deadline for this report, they have not responded.
For her part, Richardson reached out to T’nae Parker, who owns the nonprofit Broken Crayons, which provides emergency assistance to those in need. Parker fundraised to help Shecrystal and her four children stay in an Airbnb for a few days.
"She immediately sprung into action while being on vacation with her own family," Shecrystal explained about Parker, who is visiting family in Dallas.
"It’s just what you’re supposed to do," Parker said. "I think that’s what community means. I think that’s what happens when we take care of one another."
While Shecrystal is still waiting for her apartment’s maintenance to resolve the issue, she’s hopeful it will be fixed soon. Belinda is hoping for the same. In the meantime, she shared a lesson
"Make sure you get renters insurance," Belinda said.
Belinda tells me she’s filed a claim with her insurance company for the property damage.
News 19 reached out to the South Carolina Department of Insurance to see what residents with renters insurance can do.
According to Acting Director Michael Wise, “If your rental is rendered uninhabitable as a result of a covered loss, temporary housing may be covered under the loss of use or additional living expense section of the policy.”
Wise says it’s important to track your spending and save your receipts.
If you're trying to file claims for damage from burst pipes, Wise says residents should contact their landlords immediately to report damage after turning off the water supply and cleaning up standing water.
"Your landlord is typically responsible for maintaining the building, so their insurance will likely cover the pipes themselves and any structural damage," Wise advised in a statement. "However, you should check your lease agreement to see what responsibility you as the renter may have in the event of freezing weather. Next, call your insurance company and let them know you need to file a claim on your renter’s insurance policy for damaged or lost belongings."
If residents have any questions or concerned about what is covered under your specific renter's insurance policy, check with your insurance agent as policies vary from company to company.