Chicago/ Family & Kids
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Published on January 17, 2024
Chicago Family Displaced by Burst Pipe, Seeks New Home for Son With Rare DisorderSource: Google Street View

A Chicago family is grappling with the aftermath of a burst pipe that turned their South Side apartment into an indoor lake amidst freezing temperatures. The unfortunate series of events began Sunday night, leaving Shameka West and her three children, one of whom has a rare genetic disorder, without a home.

The situation escalated quickly as West Collins witnessed water forcefully spout from the ceiling, destroying their personal belongings and leaving them in the cold. "Yesterday his hands were purple. When the fire department arrived, he was sitting there, they had to put on this stuff, his coat, his hat, his scarf, his gloves because he had started turning colors because with this syndrome, it affects his brain, his heart, his entire body," she told WGN-TV. Her son Ayden has Williams syndrome, which includes symptoms like intellectual disabilities and heart issues, making their plight even more urgent.

Despite visible damage, including brown water stains and peeling paint, the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) stated the apartment was "fit for occupation" after quickly repairing the pipes. The only remaining repair was the ceiling, to be addressed once dry. "Our staff has visited the apartment and it is fit for occupation," a CHA spokesperson said in a statement obtained by the Chicago Tribune. However, West and her children are staying with a relative in Oak Park as they seek a more suitable long-term solution.

Amid claims from the CHA that the unit was "suitable for occupation," West's assessment starkly contrasts. "I thought, 'That can't be true, because the water was running for nine hours,'" West recounted to WGN-TV. The flooding caused extensive damage throughout the apartment, even prompting an emergency evacuation due to the risk of an electrical fire. The family is now seeking to relocate to a dwelling that can accommodate Ayden's special needs.

The plight of the West-Collins family has not gone unnoticed, sparking a surge of community support. A family member has set up a GoFundMe page to aid in their recovery, which has raised over $1,800. "There's been an outpouring of support, and I'm so grateful," West expressed to the Chicago Tribune, "But I'm also devastated. We need somewhere to live."