City sends high water bill to Harvey victim's vacant home

By Jonathan Martinez - Anchor/Reporter

Jeff Hunter, who got a high water bill for a home that is vacant after Hurricane Harvey, said, "You're dealing with FEMA and then dealing with this water bill. You're just worn out from being on the phone."

These days, besides a major effort to gut his house, thanks to Hurricane Harvey, Jeff Hunter is also dealing with a high water bill headache.

"I got the bill in October and the bill was, like, $350 so I called them and said, 'Hey, I'm not living there,' and she's saying, 'You may have a leaky toilet or something,' and I'm saying, 'No there's no one living there,'" said  Hunter.

Hunter said not only was the issue never fixed, the bill jumped up another $300 the next month.

Hunter says it is impossible that water is being used at he home, considering he hasn't lived there since Harvey hit and he manually shut everything off before he left.

"When I left, I got the breaker box and turned off the water," he said.

Now, Hunter is anxiously waiting for crews from the the city's public works department to come out to figure out what the issue is.

And it appears he's not alone, as his neighbors have also recently received high water bills.

Cindy King said, "We couldn't have had these water bills. Hasn't been water. Didn't have water then. Mine was just about 300-something, I believe."

We contacted the city about the matter and a representative sent us this statement:

"The City of Houston and Houston Public Works take seriously the fact that some properties affected by flooding have received unusually high water bills. After Hurricane Harvey, over 6,000 customer accounts had water bills twice as much (or more) than the previous billing cycle. The Mayor is currently working with City Council and Houston Public Works on an ordinance to help these customers. In the meantime, eligible accounts have been placed on an administrative hold. Penalties have not accrued and accounts have not be disconnected."

Until things are fixed, though, Hunter is worried that his next bill could be even higher. 

"They said they will send someone. Maybe it's a bad meter or they'll help me either way, so maybe we'll get help, you know," Hunter said.

Concerned residents are being urged to call the city's High Water Bill Hotline at 832-394-2455.

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