Utility work leaves 2 New Windsor families scrambling

NEW WINDSOR – Carlos Ortiz packs shampoo, soap, towels – and his wife and four kids – into his SUV every day, then drives to his mother’s house in Newburgh, where they enjoy something they can’t get at home: hot water.

Ortiz’s downstairs neighbors aren’t so lucky.

With no nearby relatives to lean on, Juan Santiago, his girlfriend and their son have been toughing it out at home since Thursday.

That’s when a Precision Pipeline Solutions crew replacing a Central Hudson natural gas line struck a water main on Route 9W.

Water flooded the shared basement of the families’ apartments on Quassaick Avenue, damaging the two hot water tanks and heaters and ruining other belongings.

So far, no one has accepted responsibility for the incident that left the basement a muddy mess, Ortiz said.

When the basement flooded with up to a foot of water, the two families lost carpets, furniture, electronics and toys.

Santiago lost photographs and memories that money can’t replace.

Santiago and Ortiz said they aren’t asking for reimbursement for all damages, which Santiago estimates at around $20,000.

The families simply want someone to take responsibility and replace the tanks and heaters, which cost about $2,000 for each apartment, Santiago said.

“There’s no remorse,” Santiago said. “Can’t you just do the right thing and come and fix it so the kids can have hot showers? I’m not asking for cash. I don’t care about that.”

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. had hired Precision to replace the gas line, according to John Maserjian, spokesperson for Central Hudson.

He said the water main was not marked, something typically done by the municipality.

Town Supervisor George Green could not be reached for comment Monday.

Santiago said his family lives paycheck-to-paycheck and can’t afford a $2,000 expense immediately.

Without help, Santiago will keep heating up water for his son’s baths and save money to move, he said.

It doesn’t seem that anyone will step up, he said.

Santiago and Ortiz said Precision told them to contact their insurance companies, but they don’t have renter’s insurance.

Precision officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

Landlord Frank Camilliere could not be reached, but his wife, Onda, said she did not know about the flood damage. She said she will contact Central Hudson directly.

Santiago and Ortiz said Frank Camilliere told them he doesn’t want to foot the bill because his insurance premium will skyrocket.

Santiago and Ortiz said their multiple calls to Central Hudson hadn’t been returned.

Maserjian said he was not aware of any damages from the water main break, which affected properties in the northeast part of town, near the City of Newburgh.

“If there’s ever any question about damages, any homeowner can contact Central Hudson and file a claim,” he said.

“If this was something that was due to negligence, perhaps we could take a closer look at that, as well.”

Central Hudson’s response to complaints depends on the individual circumstances, Maserjian said.

Ortiz said he wishes Central Hudson or Precision would do the right thing.

“They should be held responsible for it, but nobody wants to be responsible for it,” Ortiz said. “Nobody.”

aspadaro@th-record.com

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