Water shut off during pandemic without notice in Denmark


DENMARK, S.C. (WJBF) — Several utilities have announced that they will suspend service shut-offs for past-due customers due to COVID-19. Now concerns after several people in Denmark, South Carolina say their water was cut off during the pandemic.

“My daughter wanted to do laundry. She came rushing in and told me the washer was broken. I just got a brand new washer so I knew it wasn’t broken. I told her to check the water and the water was off,” Denmark resident Amber Jackson recalled.

Jackson fell on hard times, preventing her from paying her bill in full. “Because of the COVID-19, we’ve been stuck in the house and I’m also going through a divorce. My son-in-law just went back to work this morning, but they’re only working a few days a week in the beginning, to try and keep the virus down,” she added.

Monday night, we’re told, water was flowing from faucets throughout the community. That quickly changed Tuesday morning. “I thought it was just a few sporadic cases, but then as the phone calls started coming in and more folks started calling with their concerns, I knew it was something that had to be addressed immediately,” Community Activist Deanna Miller-Berry said.

Then Denmark Citizens for Safe Water sprang into action. “We serviced five to six families with water immediately,” Remalla G. Duncan recalled.

Their concerns even reached Columbia. Representative Justin Bamberg, Senator Brad Hutto, and the Department of Health and Environmental Control worked to resolve the issue. Bamberg wasn’t available to speak with Shawn but he did share that after speaking with local leaders, “the mayor indicated that water shuts off will cease.” But the water was reconnected.

“For the people that acted quickly and swiftly and got the mayor to change his mind, we’re forever indebted to them just for being able to help folks,” Miller-Berry said.

Shawn did try reaching out to city officials to find out if they have some type of plan in place for those residents who have trouble paying their bills due to COVID-19. He spoke with a City Hall employee who said that the City Administrator nor the Mayor was available for comment. She added that a plan is being worked on but as far as those details she didn’t have any to give.

Meanwhile, Jackson said that some type of notification should be sent out to customers stating that if the past-due bill isn’t paid by a certain date, services will be interrupted. “There are plenty of ways they can do it, a phone call, send out emails, something more than just sneaking up in your yard and shutting your service off,” she added.

We’ll keep you updated on this developing story.

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