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Burst Pipes Damage Dallas Women’s Housing Facility

By Jane Slater, CBS 11 News
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An exterior water tap is covered in snow. (credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

An exterior water tap is covered in snow. (credit: Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The recent winter snowstorm has prompted safety concerns for some victims of abuse in Dallas. Freezing temperatures caused the pipes to burst at Annie’s House, a refuge for battered women and their children. This has caused Genesis Women’s Shelter – the group that operates Annie’s House – to temporarily close the facility’s doors, forcing out all 12 families who lived there.

After the pipes burst, panic spread through Annie’s House just like the rushing water. Sent out into the cold last Thursday, the 12 women and their kids suddenly found themselves in search of a home. “It was a crisis situation,” said Kristen Howell with Genesis Women’s Shelter. “Just created total havoc.”

CBS 11 News walked through the destroyed Annie’s House. According to Howell, the contractor tasked with repairing the damage said that conditions could be worse in two weeks. That is how long it will take to fully assess the problem. It seems like new issues are discovered every day, Howell said.

The women who lived in Annie’s House all came to Genesis Women’s Shelter seeking refuge from abusive husbands or boyfriends. But with their home now destroyed, some are struggling to find a sense of safety again. “I don’t feel safe sleeping anywhere else or being anywhere else,” said one of the displaced women.

Some of the women have family here in North Texas. But for at least one of the 12 victims, her only housing option was an adjacent shelter, which was already at capacity.

Even those who returned to relatives could be in danger. “Their batterer may know where they are. Family may not understand how to best keep them safe,” Howell said.

“That’s why we came to Annie’s House in need of a safe place, because we couldn’t really go to family,” the displaced women said. “So, I definitely pray for those women.”

Meanwhile, workers are trying to repair the damage at Annie’s House, including carpets, walls, offices, an elevator and even a computer server. “We originally thought families would be displaced for about a week, so they made temporary arrangements,” Howell explained. “Now, we know it’s going to take more like six weeks, as the damage unfolds.”

Genesis Women’s Shelter is asking for the public to help with the repairs. The cost of repairs is estimated to be about $150,000 – a hard number to come up with in a year when demand is up and donations are down. If you would like to donate, click here to visit the Genesis Women’s Shelter website.

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