Anyone who wants to know about what life is like without water via one’s faucets, showerhead or toilet lever for quite a time can ask Kiara Ward.
Ward, whose residence is in South Rocky Mount, has postings inside saying “Home sweet home,” but her residence has hardly been a wonderful one lately.
Ward, 32, has for less than a month been living at the Shady Grove mobile home park off Kingston Avenue.
Ward told the Telegram about being without water service from late this past weekend until she realized her water service was on again after returning home about 5 a.m. on Thursday from her night shift job.
Ward and Shady Grove residents reportedly were without water service because they pay for water as part of their monthly rent to the landlord, who failed to pay the City of Rocky Mount for the water service at the mobile home park.
Ward said she had to go to a residence away from the mobile home park to be able to take showers.
Ward said she had a couple of jugs of water on hand at home but had to go get a couple more, and said her roommate also had to get a couple more.
Ward told the Telegram she had just gotten out of the shower this past weekend and was about to wash dishes when she first realized she did not have water service.
As for what went through her mind knowing her water service was suddenly nonexistent, she said, “I thought that somebody came and cut it off.”
“So it really, really, really had me, like, going nuts in here, walking back and forth, pacing, wondering what’s going on,” she said.
She said she eventually went outside and circled around within the mobile home park and happened to encounter someone who said the water was cut off, meaning her residence was not alone.
News of the situation at Shady Grove began appearing locally on social media and Raleigh television station WRAL aired a story.
The property owner told the station that he lost about $80,000 in his main business due to the coronavirus pandemic and that he owes the City of Rocky Mount about $34,000.
The property owner told the station of lacking extra money, having made a mistake as a result and of trying to straighten the situation out.
The Telegram on Thursday emailed the City of Rocky Mount spokesman seeking information from the municipality about what had been going on and what had happened since at Shady Grove.
The spokesman in response would only say, “Utility billing information is not public record; therefore, we cannot comment.”
Ward told the Telegram of elation when she found out her water service was back on.
“I was, like, ‘Amen, I can take a shower,’” Ward said with a smile and a hearty laugh.
“It really was a nightmare without water,” she said.
However, Ward also told the Telegram she is without electricity and heating. She said a problem with the circuit breaker is the reason.
She was asked what she will do next or how she will keep living in a situation with water and power not always being a certainty.
“I mean, if it don’t get better, then I’m going to have to move or I’m going to have to go to the up-and-up with it,” she said.
The City Council on Oct. 1, 2020, voted to lift a no-cutoff order of city utility services, effective Oct. 30, and to go back to assessing fees for late payments starting on March 30.
The order was put in place on March 19 in response to the economic impact of the pandemic, but the council eventually agreed to move toward going back to a more regular course of collecting bills.
City administrative officials in a document said residents and small businesses were $3 million behind in payments. The document also said the timeliness of payments had weakened over time while the number of delinquent customers had grown over time.
Councilman Lige Daughtridge on Oct. 12 said he was opposed to the no-cutoff order on March 19, not because he was against the moratorium, but because of what he believed was a lack of criteria for customers not being able to pay their bills.
Daughtridge on Oct. 12 said he believed if standards had been put into place, then the city would not have been at the $3 million mark for customers in arrears.