Emily Wood, KY3 News
5:36 PM CST, December 7, 2012
Rogersville, Mo. -- Dozens of Greene County families are facing the holidays with no access to running water. The well for the Oak Crest neighborhood near Rogersville broke in July. Since then, the landlord of the property said he has made efforts to fix it. But longtime local well drillers said the problem could have been fixed within just a couple weeks.
"I fill these up for cooking and cleaning, and I use these cat litter jugs for flushing the toilets and things of that nature, said Teresa Simmons, an Oak Crest resident.
Simmons is forced to a neighbor's farm to fill containers full of water for her family. She then boils that water on the stove to use it for washing dishes and cooking food.
"It costs to go without the water, because again we have to drive to go fill up the bucket and the gallon jugs, and we have to go to the laundry mat, which there in turn is gas money," Simmons said.
KY3 first reported on the Oak Crest water crisis in July, interviewing landlord Ken Boyer about the issue. At that time, Boyer told KY3 that the community well, that supplies eighty families, would be fixed within two days.
"Thanksgiving got canceled, because we had no water. So now he's like, 'I promise you we'll have water by Christmas.' I don't believe you," said Misty Jones, one of the residents.
Close to two dozen children and teenagers who attend Logan-Rogersville Schools live in the Oak Crest neighborhood, and now school administrators are getting involved.
School leaders have made school bathrooms, washing machines, and dryers available for Oak Crest students. The district superintendent says his primary concerns are health and safety.
"It's beyond our walls, but at the same time, it has implications for our students and families," said Superintendent Jeremy Tucker.
Missouri's Landlord-Tenant Law requires landlords to,'refrain from turning off tenant water,' and, 'pay for any needed repairs.' Five months after the water stopped running at Oak Crest, Boyer maintains he is doing everything possible to get a new well drilled.
"Between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half weeks they'll be able to come and do it," Boyer said.
Aqua Wells of Rogersville is one of the original drilling companies that started the first well repair project for Boyer back in July. The owner of the company, Wendell Martin, has been in the well business for 30 years. He said Boyer owes his company around $3,600 for time his company spent to try and repair the old well.
"We had three companies out there at the same time, and none of us have been paid," Martin said.
Martin said the original project could have been completed within about three weeks. He said the best option now is for Boyer to have a new well drilled.
"That one type of well would take one to two weeks typically. If the drilling is good, and everything goes smooth, you could maybe do it in a week's time," Martin said.
Boyer also said this summer's drought assistance grants for farmers, funded by the government, made it impossible for him to find a driller during the last five months.
"There's no provision for them to come drill for us when they've got all those contracts to finish with the government," Boyer said.
But at least three local drillers told KY3 News Boyer's claims are inaccurate. Though the drillers admit they were busy during the summer months, Wyndell said he pushed off multiple government-funded jobs to help the people at Oak Crest.
"I just think it's time somebody steps in and does something," Simmons said.
Over the months, people at Oak Crest have adapted to modern-day life without running water, some of them fighting off sickness in their children and many of them wondering how they will survive the winter.
"Well, eventually the water is going to freeze, and then how are we going to get water? How are the children and the dogs going to drink water if we dont have any?" Martin said.
Over the last several months, KY3 has contacted the Missouri Attorney General's Office, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, the Missouri Secretary of State, and the Missouri Human Rights Commission about this problem. Representatives from all of the aforementioned told KY3 there was little they could do to help the people living at Oak Crest.
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