FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - Fort Worth Code Enforcement Officer Dennis Mitchell was doing a routine code check of an east Fort Worth neighborhood. Often, he's writing tickets for theft of service or searching for problem areas. But he ran across something different at Fannie Wilson's home: she had no water service -- and she had been without running water for a long time.
"I paid three expensive water bills," Wilson said. "So I went out to the meter and cut it off myself. I had a leak! I couldn't afford to pay the water bill and where I had the leak I couldn't afford to get it repaired."
The 69-year old had fallen ill, too. She's a little shy about saying how long she was without water. "It was gone a good little while," Wilson said.
Actually, city records show her water service ended six years ago. She spent her days at a neighborhood center. She'd occasionally bathe at her daughters house. In her home she had jugs of water she'd gathered from other places.
"In the old days we went to the outhouse," Wilson said. "So...."
The situation got worse for Wilson. She was now facing eviction from her own home. "Under current ordinances, you're not allowed to live in a residence without active water service.," Mitchell said.
"I need a place to stay, you know?" Wilson said. "By the grace of God, I'm just doing the best I can."
Code Enforcement Officer Mitchell couldn't walk away and let the worst happen. "This is going to be tough," Mitchell said as he recounted what was going through his mind when he discovered Wilson's situation. "But its one morally we have to try and address and that's the avenue we took. I think its the right choice."
Mitchell found a community services group to step in. They helped pay to get the water connection restored.
Wilson still has issues with her pipes and worries about the bills. But she still has a home. "Its an ongoing issue," Mitchell said. "But, we're just trying to take it one step at a time and get her some help."
With little means, the only way Wilson could say thank you was with a little flower plucked from her front yard. "Because he's a good man!" Wilson said emphatically of Mitchell.
"What we just try to do is just, you know, work what resources we have available to us," Mitchell said. "It feels great."
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