ABILENE Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – After almost six weeks, 92-year-old Lucille Santana once again has sewage service at her North 18th home. The cause of the outage was determined to be the bridge reconstruction project going on just off her front lawn.
According to Abilene Assistant City Manager Michael Rice, the city did conduct an investigation before the project began, but due to the age of the house, the main sewage pipe did not appear on any modern maps.
“It wasn’t on the original plans because the house was so old, they said it was a non-active line, so they allowed them to cut the line out,” says Santana’s grandson, George Hightower.
Hightower and his family spent weeks working with the city, the contractor, and a few private plumbers trying to get the situation sorted out. During this time Santana was unable to drain water properly in her kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
The strain took a toll on Santana, according to Hightower.
“That type of worry on her may have caused her to go into a state of depression,” Hightower says.
Around the fourth week, Santana was checked in to the emergency room to be treated for dehydration, but what they found was something none of them expected.
“It was a blessing and a curse at the same time with this happening. At the time when she got checked in to the emergency room they found out she had COVID,” Hightower says.
Santana was treated for her dehydration and COVID-19 symptoms and is now feeling much better.
“She’s COVID-free, everything’s good. As she tells me, she’s ‘just chillin,” so when I talk to her on the phone, ‘she’s just chillin”,” Hightower says.
Soon she will be able to “chill” in the comfort of her own home. While she was battling COVID the contractor decided to replace her sewage line on his own dime, and the cost of the plumbers that the family hired was taken care of by the city.
“It was only fair that we pick up that cost, plus it’s a contractual obligation of the city to clear utilities,” says Rice.
Now Hightower says they’re looking forward to bringing their 92-year-old matriarch back home where she belongs.
“At the end of the day, she’s very happy. She was very surprised that all that happened without her knowing,” says Hightower.