With Mitchell in the driver’s seat, Pinnock and Mitchell’s wife, Kisha, who is Pinnock’s sister, went along for the long ride from New Jersey to Texas, helping 2-year-old Blake fine-tune his alphabet recitation.
The family drove 25 hours straight to help restore broken pipes and to get water running in houses.
More than a million Texans were still without drinking water as of Wednesday night, the Texas Tribune reported, and more than 20,000 still had no running water following the snowstorms that knocked out power for millions and killed nearly 60 people. To help those recuperating from the storms, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has taken a series of actions that include waiving certain regulations for some plumber apprentices to work without direct supervision and identifying 500 more licensees to help with plumbing problems.
Abbott’s actions are aimed at a serious need, as many residents and business owners contend with busted pipes. Out-of-state plumbers such as Mitchell and Pinnock are more than welcome to travel to Texas to assist, said Frank Denton, chairman of the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners.
His agency has been working diligently, including weekend hours, to accelerate the approval process for non-Texan plumbers. Out-of-state plumbers can submit an application that requires them to provide their licensing information and insurance coverage that meets Texas state standards. Because the demand is so high, the board has been working to process the applications in less than a day, Denton said.
“We are certainly inviting them to come to Texas. That’s for sure,” he said. “As a result, we’re trying to expedite and make it as seamless as possible.”
By the time Pinnock, a plumbing apprentice, and master plumber Mitchell arrived in Houston, another sister of Pinnock’s who lives in the city already had jobs lined up for them, and the gigs have been steadily rolling in, Pinnock said.
Word about the brothers-in-law has spread, and plumbers throughout Texas and across state lines have offered to send supplies as they run out. Other people who caught wind of their work through social media have offered financial help if they need.
The generosity from others allows Pinnock and Mitchell to better help families who aren’t able to afford the costly repairs needed to restore some order in their lives, Pinnock said.
“A lot of people who go without water is because of financial reasons,” he said. “Yesterday, we went to a subdivision of very small houses and fixed income, and we could not feel right leaving them without running water.”
Pinnock said he and Mitchell coached “handyman uncles” and family members through repairs at about six homes in that neighborhood, leaving without much in their own pockets.
It’s still up in the air as to when the family will leave, as the lack of help keeps them busy with jobs and requests continue to come in from families who have been without water for more than a week.
“We can’t have those go unseen,” Pinnock said. “Once those calls taper out, that might be around the time we head back.”