Water issues, power outages and flooding at Pflugerville senior community

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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Cambridge Villas Senior Living Community in Pflugerville is still working to restore power and water for residents after flooding from burst pipes simultaneously added yet another hurdle for the 55-year-old and up residents.

Debra Braswell, who lives at Cambridge Villas in an apartment, explained that the difficulties started earlier this week when her half of the community lost power during the severe winter weather. Residents there also lost water, Braswell explained.

Braswell had been able to stay with family for a few days, an option she knows some of her neighbors don’t have available to them. On Saturday, when she returned to check on her apartment, she found the water was turned back on and every room in her apartment was flooded.

Gesturing to her kitchen and her family room, Braswell said Sunday, “I’ve lost prettty much everything in here.”

Debra Braswell points to flooding damage in her apartment at Cambridge Villas in Pflugerville. February 21, 2021. (KXAN Photo/ Mariano Garza).

With the help of her family, Braswell has been able to move some valuables off the floor and get rid of the water that had been pooling in her apartment. But the damage has already been done: furniture, gifts from loved ones, supplies she kept in storage have all been left unusable from soaking in the water. Though her electricity came back, Braswell said it was sparking, so her family decided it would be safest to keep her electricity off for now.

Neighbors in Pflugerville have taken notice, they have been checking up on the Cambridge Villas for several days now, bringing vital supplies and trying to spread the word on social media. By Sunday, at least 100 community volunteers showed up there to help distribute food and water. Elected officials have also taken notice, with Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales and State Representative Celia Israel present for the volunteer effort Sunday.

Representatives from the company who manages Cambridge Villas were at the community Sunday as well. Dally Ward, Regional Vice President for Capstone Real Estate Services, told KXAN that property staff are now going around to each unit to see if residents have electricity and water. Ward added that staff are also trying to provide tools like fans and dehumidifiers for residents who intend to stay in flooded apartments.

He said he believes water was restored to residents on Saturday, “but because of some frozen pipes, when the water was turned back on, we did have significant flooding in a number of the units.”

“We have toilets that aren’t flushable right now because of water, so they are actually taking buckets of water to help people be able to flush their toilets,” Ward explained.

As the week goes on and Cambridge Villas staff try to re-establish water connections, Ward warned, “we could see some additional lines break that maybe didn’t initially break.”

He added that those who need help can go to the office and talk to the property manager.

“We do have the volunteers that are planning to be here a couple more days, so I think it will be easy to find someone, tell them what’s going on,” Ward said.

“We pray and hope that the whole community comes together and continues this and keeps us going, and keep the faith,” Braswell said through tears as she stood in her flooded home. Her daughter, her son-in-law and her grandchildren have all arrived to help her navigate through the damage.

“And again there’s a lot of residents here that are stuck, no families,” Braswell noted.

“We’re just all worried, a lot of us don’t have renters insurance,” she continued. “We don’t know if FEMA’s gonna help us out.”

Braswell has been heartened to see so many of her community members dropping by day after day to bring in trash bags, water, sanitizer, soap, and hot food for the Cambridge Villas residents.

A photo of water flooding outside of an apartment at Cambridge Villas Senior Living in Pflugerville. Photo Courtesy Aric Reil.

Aric Reil of the nearby Falcon Pointe neighborhood shared a video on social media Saturday as he grew concerned that sprinkler systems had ruptured at Cambridge Villas. He had started getting water to the residents on Friday and worked alongside some local businesses like Growler Bar and Kitchen in Pflugerville to get clean drinking water to the property.

Saturday, when the water was turned back on at Cambridge Villas, Reil recalled, “it started flooding out the units, people’s patios were getting flooded, one unit had three to four inches of water inside of it.”

Reil was part of the effort to bring food to each Cambridge Villas unit. He recalled meeting a man who didn’t have a working microwave and the only contents in his refrigerator were a piece of cheese and a couple of jalapeno peppers. Reil said the volunteers were able to bring this man a microwave the next day.

Volunteers help to distribute food to residents of Cambridge Villas Senior Living. Photo courtesy Pflour Shop bakery.

April Saldana, the owner of Pflour Shop bakery in Pflugerville, said she first heard about what the residents at Cambridge Villas were going through on Thursday via social media.

“We also knew groceries stores and even our food providers for the bakery weren’t supplied or not getting trucks in,” Saldana recalled. “I decided I would source the ingredients from restaurant depot and make spaghetti meals for the 208 residents for Saturday.”

Pflour Shop has been facing its own challenges during this time as well, a burst pipe flooded their refrigeration area this week and intermittent power led to them losing everything in their fridges and freezers.

She said her shop cooked 208 spaghetti meals for the Cambridge Villas residents. Saldana noted that during meal delivery, the water was being turned back on at the property and she remembered, “in that moment pipes started busting in almost every unit with water falling from the ceilings and walls.”

The group of volunteers stayed until 10 p.m. Saturday, trying to help push water out of people’s residences. Sunday morning, the volunteers provided donuts and coffee from three different local donut shops.

“We spent the majority of the day trying to check on the residents and making sure they had drinking water and flushing water,” Saldana continued. “These people hadn’t been checked on since the storm. They went without power and water and now flooding. I have never seen anything like it.”

The volunteers looking to help Cambridge Villas have created a group on Facebook, where they are trying to post regular updates.

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