Belfast Telegraph

Disabled woman still suffering from water crisis

by Natalie Irvine

A disabled woman from east Belfast who has not been able to properly wash herself since Boxing Day has had to refuse the offer of staying with her family or booking into a hotel for fear of being put to the bottom of the Housing Executive call-out list.

Agnes Smith, from the Beersbridge Road area, who suffers from the crippling effects of arthritis, requiring two showers a day to ease her joints, has been left waiting in her home for 19 days for the problem to be fixed.

Mrs Smith said: “I am not one to complain, and I know there are always people worse off than yourself, but the effects of the water crisis should have died down now. My downstairs toilet flooded twice over the holidays, I fell over quite badly trying to find the stopcock when the pipes first burst and flooded the toilet and kitchen area — it was such a bad fall I had to get X-rayed.

“A week before Christmas the central heating packed up too and I was left with a freezing house until last Tuesday. If it wasn’t for calling councillor Michael Copeland, as a neighbour advised, I think I would have still been waiting for someone to come around and fix the heating.

“When it was really cold and I was without water, my son offered me to stay with him or put me up in a hotel but the Housing Executive told me I couldn’t leave the house — if I missed someone who was coming out to fix the problem I would be put on the bottom of the list.

“I have been waiting at home for the shower to be fixed since Boxing Day, only going out to hospital appointments.

“Showers are really important in helping me cope with the pain. I take one in the morning to help get my joints active and one just before I go to bed to help me sleep.

“I have had four plumbers out, one just turned up with a screwdriver, I mean what could he do with that? One just came out to turn off the water when the pipes burst the second time, then left.

“Everyone seems to be passing the buck and not dealing with it properly. I don’t know when this is going to be fixed.”

A spokesperson from NIHE said that Mrs Smith’s calls had been followed up as emergency call-outs. “When our contractors called to fix her shower they needed to order a replacement which took longer to arrive as it was an adaptation shower and Mrs Smith was informed of this.”

They apologised to Mrs Smith for any distress caused, adding that the high volume of calls over Christmas had created delays. They promised her shower would be replaced at once.

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