Waterless Plano Apartment Tenants Demand Answers, Get Police Called on Them

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Ten days and counting without running water.

That is the reality facing countless families across DFW, including many living in apartment communities.

Residents at one Plano apartment complex who demanded answers from their management, instead got the police called on them.

Stop by the leasing office at Bel Air Willow Bend Apartments in Plano, and you’ll see the stream of residents walking up with empty milk jugs, plastic containers and buckets for water.

Resident of Bel Air Willow Bend Apartments fills containers with water at clubhouse.

Many of those who call the apartment complex on Preston Road home, woke up again Friday morning without this basic need.

 “It’s ridiculous,” said resident Piper Graham. “It’s been over a week now.”

The apartment is providing water hoses in the clubhouse with potable water for tenants. Residents are also able to access the clubhouse facilities.

Many residents from India live in the complex and find it hard to believe this is happening in America.

“We come to the U.S. for better living,” said a resident named Ravi.

“There are 25 buildings, so far they have fixed water in just five buildings,” said another resident who did not provide his name.

Chaitanya Budima, his wife and their two children, ages 8 and 5, live at Bel Air Willow Bend.

He said he’s been without water for 11 days.

“I had to carry almost 100 gallons almost every day,” he said. “I’m just paying the rent over here and they’re not really caring about us.”

Budima said his unit first lost power, then flooded when frozen pipes began to rupture.

The problem now is that their building’s main water valve needs to be replaced, he said.

Residents have gathered outside the leasing office, demanding answers from management about when exactly water will be restored or what ‘plan b’ is.

Instead, they were met with a call to police.

“We asked them, 'hey, this is what’s happening,' and they called the police on us yesterday saying, ‘these guys are coming to asking,’” said Budima. “I mean, we are asking our own rights as for the Texas Renters Agreement. It's our own right. We need to have a basic requirement of water and they called police on us!”

Officers were called to the complex for a disturbance. When officers arrived, no one was around. No criminal offense was reported, according to PPD spokesman, Officer David Tilley.

And the problems keep mounting.

Maintenance workers and plumbers were on site trying to fix issues in affected buildings. Waterlogged ceilings are being torn down. One resident said he was told it could take several weeks to fix his ceiling.

The city brought in several pallets of water for residents. A church and a nearby elementary school have dropped off food and other necessities near the pool area.

Residents stopped by Friday afternoon, picked up cans of food and bottled water and walked back to their homes.

Graham’s water was restored shortly after speaking with NBC 5, but she believes it’s not just pipes that are broken in Plano.

“This is definitely an infrastructure issue, I believe,” she said. “And also, an issue with our leadership. We need someone to come out and say: You know what? This is not OK.”

NBC 5’s efforts to reach management on-site, by email and over the phone on Friday were not successful.

“Some of our residents became so upset that the staff felt unsafe. We’ve been working around the clock to restore the water, even paying plumbers double the normal rate. The safety of our residents and staff is and will always be our top concern,” property managers said Monday in a statement to NBC 5.

The city of Plano said there are nine apartment complexes in the city with some level of water loss, as of Friday afternoon.

That is down from 60 on Monday, according to Lori Schwarz, Plano Dir. Of Neighborhood Services.

The city also is allowing Plano residents who don’t have water due to burst pipes to take showers at several of the city’s recreation centers, added Schwarz. "Non-members are usually charged a daily fee to use all recreation center amenities. But in this time of need, any resident who wants to shower can come in and use the locker rooms & showers free of charge," she stated in an email to NBC 5.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a statement provided to NBC 5 by property management.

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