We would like to share with you this beautiful work done by our friends from
The Pinnock-Mitchell Texas Relief Foundation
Their mission is to restore running water to as many Texas residents as possible affected by Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.
Here we tell you about our very rewarding interview.
Please tell us about your business and your executive team.
Mitchell’s Plumbing and Heating LLC is a family-owned business. Andrew is the master plumber, I am Isaiah, his apprentice, and I help with administrative and technical assistance. We are responsible for the actual repairs. Kisha Pinnock is Andrew’s wife, an attorney, coordinator & dispatcher. Sharon Pinnock (Andrew’s mom) helps with scheduling calls. There are other independent contractors from Florida & New Jersey who have come together to help.
What was the reason behind your volunteering Texas trip?
We were driven by a need, the fact that in 2021, families in Texas don’t have water to their houses for 2-3 weeks. It all started with a call to a sister that lives in TX. Reaching out to her about her welfare made us realize how other family members and residents in the area have been displaced, and some have busted pipes as an aftermath of the storm. Andrew wanted to help people out using his craft, and he’s quite driven to be passionate about others. I (Isaiah) always want to go the extra mile to help property owners. We have combined forces to create an amazing team.
How many homeowners have you helped?
So far, we’ve helped around 60 families, and the goal is to help as many families as possible, taking it into the hundreds. The constraint we have faced in reaching out to more people is limited supplies. We came here with about $1,000 worth of supplies. We’ve also been getting supplies from local warehouses here in Texas. Thanks to the donations from many people, we will get more supplies shipped from New Jersey, and we will be helping more families affected by the storm in Texas.
The Texas Plumbing board also contacted us to indicate their support. They have offered to waive any fees for anyone who wants to start an apprenticeship with Mitchell’s Heating & Plumbing. Beyond fixing the pipes, we are expanding the scope of our work to winterize pipes and insulate the pipes beyond what they were before so that they do not have to go through this again. We also desire to bring the Texas residents to the New Jersey code. We have replaced hundreds of pipes in the line and ensure our work is rock-solid so that they will not have to experience this again in a very long time. We are focusing on helping families who are in areas that are in most need.
What is the wait time to see a local plumber?
Many families we met were left without water for up to two weeks. These are families with older ones and children. They couldn’t eat or have a bath or clean generally. When they reached out to companies here, they were told they would have to wait for 3-4 weeks. The challenge of increased cost has complicated this. Some families cannot afford the companies’ quotations to fix the pipelines, and increased demand has jerked up the price of goods and services in the plumbing value chain.
The cost of plumbing supplies in Texas has increased tremendously. A pipe that will typically cost less than $10 in New Jersey now goes for $66 in Texas. It’s a vicious cycle of trying to profit off of people’s devastation. The same thing obtains for the cost of plumbing services. The implication of this is a lot of low-income homes are unable to afford the cost.
What are the most common plumbing problems while fixing pipes?
A common issue we have seen is missing minor details. Many of the pipes are run on the exteriors, and they are exposed to heat and temperature, with no insulation, a lot of sediment-rich water (hard water). Many homes have not been serviced in years, about 10 to 20 years, and these sediments are beginning to block the flow. So we’ve been doing a lot of replacement of shower pipes, showerheads, diverters, and sinks due to these sediments. We have an amazing team that is ready to give their all to ensure that we give them the best result. Nothing gives us more joy than having to tell a mother that she can finally shower her baby again after weeks of waiting. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
Could you please share more information regarding your nonprofit organization?
It started on the first week of March 2021, revealed on 3/4/21 working with others from Jersey and collaborating with other independent contractors, sheetrocking general demolition. We also help to remove other debris such as floor and couches from the area.
What is your message to the homeowners who feel lost during these difficult times?
There is hope, and we have the team and resources. No one is out of reach to us. We can get to you and will get your water running. Because we are getting a lot of calls, we have also devised a means to help homeowners with minor issues over FaceTime when possible. This is to enable us to reach out to a broader audience.
What advice do you have for other business owners/plumbers?
Many of these plumbing issues could have been prevented if the residents have some basic information about the plumbing system and what to do about it. The lack of those details has cost them a lot, up to thousands of dollars. Some of these issues are;
-The Water Cut-off Switch; knowing where it is and how to turn it off and drain the pipes (to prevent expansion and bursting) is a huge step in the right direction and will minimize the damage. Especially in preparation for a deep freeze storm.
– Insulation – Get insulation to your home; our goal is to get as many homes as possible insulated and up to code.
If the damage has occurred, it is also important to contact professionals. We’ve encountered a situation where homeowners have paid people in the neighborhood who had no idea how to fix the damage and even made things worse. These people are not professionals and are losing money to them, which is another burden to the families. Hence, we would prefer you contact a professional and not just any handyman. We have also tried to send supplies to some people and facetime with them to put them through the processes involved in setting up the plumbing system and correct any minor damages.
Where can you be reached?
Phone calls, emails, text messages, and our website have an option to reach out to for services. The preferred choice is emails, as we have been getting a lot of phone calls. For donors: you can reach out to us and donate via credit cards, checks or Venmo. No contribution is small, and no gesture is insignificant. The smallest things mean the most.
We are returning from our second trip, and it’s been an amazing experience. We’ve helped people get running water the same day. We usually have a full day’s work of more than 12 hours. Sometimes we are told to please look at a neighbor or family member’s house. Sometimes we work through the night due to the weather and because it can be helpful for them in the crawl space, and this rolls into the day and sometimes into the next, but it’s an amazing experience. You can support us through your donations.