Ashley Crabb still doesn’t know when she’ll be able to go home.
“We’re taking it day by day, doing what we can do,” she said Friday night.
Crabb and her family have been staying in a hotel provided by Greater Cincinnati Water Works since early January, when one of the city’s largest water mains burst and flooded their home. They lost almost everything. Furniture, appliances, medicine, clothes, keepsakes and her two children’s school computers disappeared into the dirty water.
At the time, Crabb called it a “crisis happening in the middle of a crisis.” Her family, which includes Crabb, her mother and two children with special needs, was homeless during a global pandemic.
Now, Crabb is relying on the help of people who hear her story. Businesses have donated flooring, a new furnace and a water heater to help her replace broken appliances; strangers donated a washer, dryer and stove.
One of the earliest and most diligent supporters was Gretchen Bayer, her son's teacher.
“If it wasn't for her and a couple family members, I don't know where we would be right now,” Crabb said Friday.
Bayer said she was happy to help.
“A few phone calls, a few emails and a little extra time, and so, so much has happened for them,” she said. “It’s been nice, and I just want them in a warm house again.”
Greater Cincinnati Water Works expects another month or two of repair work to restore the 60-inch water main, which also created a sinkhole large enough to swallow a car.
And Crabb is working on her own repairs at home. She gets there most days, she said, although it’s a game of catching the right buses and having enough energy to make the work happen.
The hotel that Water Works has provided for her family is 17 miles from their neighborhood, and Crabb cannot drive. Her children now ride two hours to school, and her mother spends 45 minutes getting to work.
“If I take a bus (to the house), I have to walk a good 20-30 minutes, catch one bus, transfer to another and walk more,” she said.
She has no idea how long she’ll have to keep up that pace before making a safe return to her house.
“It’s between the city and getting things done at home,” she said.