2 Domestic Violence Shelters Evacuate Women and Children After Damaging Pipe Bursts

Shelters that help give domestic violence survivors a new start have been damaged by the winter storm

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Pipes have been bursting all week, flooding many homes, apartments and businesses.

This latest hard freeze on Friday morning isn't helping the situation, because plumbing experts predict residents could see many more breaks as we thaw out over the weekend.

The pipe problems are taking a toll on everyone, especially two different women's shelters serving victims of abuse in North Texas.

Genesis Women's Shelter & Support and The Family Place – both located in Dallas – experienced pipe bursts this week, after having no power and heat for days.

It flooded apartments, offices, hallways and daycare space. Insulation crashed through the ceiling, ruining furniture and personal belongings.

Genesis Women's Shelter

Staff sprang into emergency action, evacuating more than 200 women and children at both shelters into temporary housing at hotels and other locations.

"Yet again, our clients were running for safety. And these aren't just women who have lost power in their homes, they've lost everything in their homes. They've been quarantined with an abusive partner because of COVID-19. They have had the courage to step up and step out and come to a place like Genesis where we offer safety and shelter,” said Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women's Shelter.

The families could be in temporary housing for several weeks to months until the mess is cleaned up. Paige Flink, CEO of The Family Place, said she’s not sure what she’s going to do to help the families in her nonprofit’s care after they were affected by the winter storm.

"So at this point, I'm going to have to pay for 12 weeks of a hotel. So I know our insurance will cover some of it, but I don't know how much,” she said.

Right now, needs at both shelters are critical.

How to Help

Genesis Women's Shelter needs everything from flashlights, blankets, new pillow and towels for clients. They have created an Amazon wish list for people to easily purchase those items for families. You can also donate directly to the shelter by clicking here.

The Family Place is also taking monetary donations to help with the clean-up and repair process. Click here to learn how you can help.

In the meantime, insurance experts say pipe damages could become the most expensive weather event in Texas history.

Plumbers said people need to try and learn how to shut their water off, whether it be the valves inside or outside the home.

Be patient, as call volumes are high for fire rescue, public works and experts to help residents.

Plumber Edwin Hernandez, like other professionals, has been working nonstop the last couple of days.

“If you wake up to no water, the first thing you do is go outside and turn off the water,” Hernandez said.

For people who return to their homes after losing power and notice an issue with frozen pipes, “turn on your heat, open your cabinets and let those pipes thaw out by itself," Hernandez said.

"Don’t try to put extreme heat to it,” he said.

Hernandez suggests placing a portable heater at a distance to attempt to warm the pipes, but do not place it very close.

Leaks may not be immediately noticeable given the frozen water inside.

The city of Plano posted a step-by-step video showing how to turn off water.

People are also urged to call a plumber if a frozen pipe has burst.

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