Image via Google Street View.

As crews work to restore water to the Poe Homes public housing complex in West Baltimore, the Department of Public Works released a statement today trying to explain the complex infrastructure failure.

The water main break at West Baltimore and North Schroeder streets that caused the stoppage was one of four major incidents last week, the department said.

Thirty-two valves, including a 20-inch water main, had to be shut down to isolate the break near the complex, the department said, cutting off water for 1,000 homes. While service was mostly restored, workers discovered the valve controlling water flow to the Poe Homes was broken in the closed position after the water main had been repaired.

“This is a complex situation, and repairs have not been easy,” DPW said in a statement. “A 6-inch main broke overnight as we were attempting to replace a valve.”

Residents in the Poppleton complex have been without water since Monday, and people have had to fill pots from open fire hydrants, according to news reports.

“It literally feels like hell. Because you can’t properly wash your dishes. You can’t properly bathe, can’t cook. You can’t clean, you can’t flush your toilet,” Leslie Ware, president of the Poe Homes Council, told WBAL-TV.

In addition to dropping off bottled water and setting up temporary lines, DPW said today it opened hydrants not connected to the break to provide additional water, which the department said is perfectly safe.

“Water from hydrants is the same water, pulled from the same mains, that goes to every house and commercial customer,” DPW said in the release. “WATER FROM HYDRANTS IS SAFE, and is commonly used for food and drink vendors at the City’s fairs and festivals.”

The Housing Authority of Baltimore City posted on Twitter that it is working with DPW and other organizations to deliver pallets of bottled water to residents, and will continue to do so until service is fully restored.

We will continue delivering pallets to our POE HOMES residents. No house left behind.

— HABC (@bmorehabc) June 21, 2019

Per Fox 45’s Keith Daniels, the University of Maryland Baltimore is offering free showers for residents today with towels, soap and shampoo provided.

Update: Free hot showers for Poe Homes residents at UMB Community Ctr.(621 W. Lombard St., 4th floor, today 1-6pm, towels, soap, shampoo provided.) Residents tell @EOrtizTV, it’s #DAY5 without water. @FOXBaltimore

— Keith Daniels Fox45 (@KeithDFox45) June 21, 2019

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...