Getting a drink of water is something so basic that many take it for granted, and a woman in her 90s was forced to turn to strangers for the seemingly basic necessity.
After KCTV5's first story on Mary Winchell aired, there was an outpouring of support. Now, thanks to Morgan Miller Plumbing out of Grandview, MO, and the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, her problem has been taken care of.
Mary Winchell, 93, lives in a house on North 81st Street in Kansas City, KS, but she has had no running water since 2011. The problem stemmed from a leak in her water line that prevented it from getting to her home.
When the plumbing company saw that she had started going to neighbors to ask for water, their staff knew they had to do something.
"Just the age of her and having to haul water from across the street and down the road and the summer heat, the way it is, we don't want anything to happen to her, we don't want her to get dehydrated," said Bob Quirk with Morgan Miller Plumbing.
When Quirk showed up in conjunction with BPU, Winchell was shocked.
"I was awe-stricken, just awe-stricken, I can't believe it," she said. "You know, I thought our times had changed and people had changed, but there's still a lot of good people around."
Her neighbor Raymond Brownlee, who got the entire thing started, visited Winchell to check on her Friday and was happy to find her with water.
"I'm happy, very happy. She needs it, won't accept it (help). You've just got to force your help on Mary," he said.
Winchell has water once again, after four years without. Morgan Miller Plumbing is going to get with BPU Monday to confirm there are no leaks and, after that, the case will be considered closed.
Winchell and Brownlee have been nearby neighbors for years, but met for the first time on Wednesday.
"She was so exhausted and it was hot yesterday, so I walked her home to her house and I said I'll be back. So I went down to Hen House and got her some more jugs of water," Brownlee said.
Winchell's water was turned off by BPU for non-payment and, since then, she's been making do and grabbing rainwater to flush her toilet as well as getting drinking water from a relative across the street.
The family option ran out earlier this week and Winchell went, cup in hand, on the hunt for water. That's when she met her Good Samaritan.
"I took it (the water) and put it in some plastic cups I had and put it in the refrigerator. I was glad I had it last night," Winchell said the following day.
KCTV5 got Winchell in touch with BPU who said they never heard from her again after it was turned off all those years ago. She acknowledged that and said she now had to get a pipe fixed that will involve some excavation first.
Brownlee says people need to look after Winchell for her own good.
"Because if somebody slacks again, she's a proud lady, she's not going to ask for any help, none. It's just sad, you know," he said.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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