When a crippling ice storm hit Texas, leaving a bonanza of burst waterlines, homeowners found themselves scrambling to find help. With local supplies and plumbers exhausted by demand, crucial repairs seemed out of reach—until an unlikely hero rode to the rescue.
After loading up his truck with about $2,000 of materials, New Jersey plumber Andrew Mitchell, along with his wife, Kisha Pinnock, the couple’s 2-year-old son, Blake, and his newly apprenticed brother-in-law, Isiah Pinnock, made the 22-hour trek from Morristown to Houston—and got to work putting things right.
“A lot of the people we’ve helped were telling us they either can’t get a plumber on the phone or—if they do get one on the phone—the wait to be serviced is three to four weeks out, so they can’t have water during that entire time,” Kisha told the BBC.
Mitchell’s first stop was his sister-in-law’s home in Humble. Throughout the storm, Kisha and Andrew had been keeping tabs on her sister in Texas and learned from her situation just how dire circumstances in the Lone Star State truly were.
Facebook posts from harried local plumbers pleading for help cemented the couple’s resolve to take action. “This is your time,” Kisha told Andrew in a conversation she recounted in an interview with the CBS News program Uplift. “Everybody has their time to shine. You have the skills; you have the credentials…You should just go.”
After tackling his sister-in-law’s plumbing woes, word of Mitchell’s efforts soon spread. With days starting at 7 a.m. and often not ending until after 2 a.m. the following morning, Mitchell and Isiah were servicing on average between 6 to 10 houses per day.
One recipient of their good work was 71-year-old Barbara Benson. After a week without water resulting from a burst pipe, she was at her wit’s end.
She’d contacted more than a dozen plumbers and was told it would be weeks before an appointment could be scheduled. To make matters worse, Benson said some plumbers quoted as much as $2,000 just to show up for an estimate.
Far from price gouging, Mitchell routinely charged clients only what they could afford. “I always ask a customer what do they think is fair, what do they have to spare,” Mitchell told NJ.com. “I never try to take advantage of somebody.”
Satisfied customer Benson couldn’t have been more pleased with the outcome of Mitchell’s house-call. “For a woman living by herself, you can get scammed easily and I was just pleasantly surprised,” she told NJ.com. “It was like somebody’s watching out for me.”
While Mitchell and his family originally planned to stay until the plumbing supplies run out, since the need remains so great, they’re considering restocking materials and spending at least a little more time in Texas.
“A lot of times when you see devastation it could be across the world; it could be across the country; it could be in your own town,” Kisha told Uplift. “You really feel like your heart is breaking with them and you can’t do anything but in this instance, we really could. I really knew if we could only help one family, we did make a difference.”
Doing what you love and being of service to others has proven to be an immense inspiration.“It’s really a blessing to be a blessing to other people and Andrew truly enjoys the work,” Kisha told the BBC. “Plumbing is his passion.”