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Residents deal with lack of drinking water

Water problems: the Gulfstream emergency housing complex (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Flooded halls, sodden rooms and days of intermittent water for drinking and washing have plagued several residents at the Gulfstream emergency housing complex.

The water issues are part of essential repairs, but occupants at the former barracks in St David’s, which provides last-resort housing for needy tenants, said a number of first-floor rooms had been inundated by leaking pipes.

At times, little or no water has been available elsewhere in the ageing building.

“For three days I haven’t been getting water,” one told The Royal Gazette. “I haven’t had water to wash dishes, cook or clean. Some kids have gone to school without washing.

“There was a tap at the downstairs office where people were going to fill buckets, but right now the water is disconnected.”

Another said wet tiles had fallen on tenants in the lower levels of the complex, damaging possessions and leaving floors awash.

“My toilet doesn’t flush and half my water supply is off — it’s been like that for a few days now. I’ve had to bathe my daughter in a bucket.”

Tuesday was said to be particularly difficult, with hot weather compounding difficulties.

According to the Bermuda Housing Corporation, repairs are under way throughout the building, with notices posted at the entrance to alert residents.

Old copper water lines and hot-water heaters throughout Gulfstream are being replaced, with shut-off vales added, as part of an ongoing project.

“This project is being done over several weeks in order to minimise the impact on residents, with work being performed on two days of the week every other week,” a spokeswoman said.

Tenants also said they were still awaiting updates since a wave of eviction notices went out last month to residents who had fallen upwards of $10,000 behind on their rents. The worst-hit tenants at Gulfstream are parents who have been jobless for years, with arrears piling up over what Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, described as a “massive” amount of time.

Mr Cannonier halted the evictions when news broke on August 29, saying he had not been aware of the decision from the Bermuda Housing Corporation.

The facility, which stands on old United States Base lands, was repurposed as transitional living in 2008.