Dear CEO Burrell Ellis and DeKalb County Commissioners,
I am a lifelong DeKalb County resident, residing at my home on Thompson Mill Road now for the past 31 years. I have paid my taxes, I have supported my local county as best as I know how. My husband and I have chosen to remain in South DeKalb County when many other people were moving further out. We like where we live.
That is, until today when our water and that of our entire street was cut off without warning and kept off for over 16 hours, before being turned back on for a few minutes, and then back off again.
I first realized that we were without water around 8:45 this morning (Monday). I knew I had made a pot of coffee at 8:05 and used the water then to fill my coffeemaker. When I went to take my shower at 8:45 and turned on the water in the shower, I found out there was no water available.
I contacted the regular business number of DeKalb Watershed Management. I was told that they were unaware of a water problem and would check on it. I received a return call within an hour, telling me that they thought it would be repaired shortly. This was at 9:49AM. That was the only call I received from them.
Repeated calls to DeKalb Watershed Management later in the day, beginning around noon, and then every two hours or so resulted in only in being told one excuse after another – “it’s a private contractor working for a developer” “it’s not the county people” “they’re working on bringing it back online now” (around 6:30PM), and on and on.
I called again around 9:15PM Monday night and spoke again with the individual at the 24-hour emergency number. He repeatedly tried to talk over me and wouldn’t listen to what I was asking. When I finally was able to ask if they had any idea whatsoever when the water would be restored, he said that they had “sent a man out there to check things out, and he was told it would be back up within an hour.”
When I asked *where* the problem was in the water line, I was told the 4400 block of Thompson Mill Road which I knew was inaccurate. I live at 46** Thompson Mill Road and I had driven down from Snapfinger Road on my way home, driving past the 4400’s. There was no road crew anywhere, nor was there any work site to be seen.
When I pressed him further, he said that the contractor was actually down near the bridge – which is *past* my house. I then informed him that the bridge is *not* in the 4400’s of Thompson Mill Road, and his response was basically “so?”
In fact, as I got in my car and drove down to the bridge over Snapfinger Creek, I realized that the work site was actually directly in front of my neighbor’s driveway located at 463* Thompson Mill Road. There were two unmarked white-panel vans pulled over on the side of the road beside a back-hoe sitting adjacent to an enormous hole in the ground.
A man with a shovel was standing beside the hole, looking down into it. There was another man actually down in the hole. I could not see any sign of running or standing water anywhere. There was obviously no gushing water like from a broken hydrant or something of that nature.
To make an extremely long story much shorter, my neighbor drove down there later after 10PM and stopped to ask the men when the repair would be completed. One of the men said a couple of hours and the other man, she said, was obviously “wasted” – her words.
When we called the Watershed 24hour number again to ask for help, we were told that it was not a county matter. It was a private contractor working for a developer. They could not and would not help us.
We can not wash our dishes, our clothes, even our bodies. We can’t drink water from our faucets nor flush our toilets. We are thankful that we do have a neighbor on the street behind us that has graciously and generously allowed us to use her facilities.
Well, I will admit to you, commissioners, that it really disturbs me that the county watershed department (that used to be known as the “water department) will simply stand by and let the county residents suffer at the hands of people who obviously are incompetent and unable to do what they have been hired to do.
If, in fact, a developer hired a private contractor for this job, I assume that he had to have a permit from the county for this individual or company to do this kind of work. I also assume that this contractor would have to have a license of some kind.
It is my humble, but now well-experienced, opinion that DeKalb County should possibly have this license revoked and some kind of penalty issued for the incompetence and stupidity that I’ve seen from the workers down there. There were no supervisors present; there was no county supervision even after *REPEATED* calls to the emergency line.
The water was finally turned on tonight at 12:25AM (Tuesday) after being turned off for over 16 hours. It lasted for less than 10 minutes. There is now no water *again* and my husband has just told me that, after driving back down to the bridge, there is only one man down there with the backhoe, digging, and there is now water gushing EVERYWHERE.
If this is my county tax dollars at work, then it’s a complete and total WASTE, and, pardon me for saying so, but I’d like to see the entire DeKalb County Watershed Management department as well as the contractor and the developer going without water for 24 hours, unplanned, un-notified, as we have.
This does *not* speak well of DeKalb County.
Merri G. Williams