Gas line ruptures leaving Louisville family in the cold


by Adam Walser

Posted on January 27, 2010 at 6:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 27 at 7:19 PM

A Louisville woman says she and her family are trying to survive the cold winter with no working furnace.

LG&E cut off natural gas service to the home after a dangerous leak, but the tenant says her landlord refuses to fix it
The woman, Shannon Thompson, lives in this home with three children and her brother.

She admits she fell behind on paying the rent, but says that now nobody is willing to help her or her family

Most of the warmth in this home lately comes from a family's love.

More than two weeks ago, natural gas fumes filled the house,

“They kept putting corrosion  gunk over it, but after a while, it just deteriorated,” said Thomson.

The technician from LG&E said the line ruptured and he had to cut off service.

“He's like, 'thank god’. He was like because ‘what if just what if a simple cigarette, he's saying, the whole, within a mile radius, this whole neighborhood would be upside down,’”said Chris McElroy.

But the family says when they contacted the landlord Lucy Gordon about the problem she refused to get it fixed, since they owed her back rent.

So Thompson, McElroy and Thompson's three children Quentin, Makila, and Jamary are using electric heaters, which often trip the fuses.

The also use the stove's two working burners.

“The only reason why it's warm and we can stand it is because of the stove. It's been on for seven days straight,” said Thompson.

Now the children sleep huddled in one room.

But cold is not the only problem . Black mold and leaking sewage can be seen in the basement.  The tub runs non-stop.

“It's in the wall. you can hear it,” Thompson says of the faucet, which runs non-stop.  But no there's no hot  water.

“Because I don't have hot water, I can't provide the simple things the kids deserve. a nice clean environment,” said Thompson.

We tried to talk to the landlord but she wasn't home.

When she called us back later, she said Thompson was far behind in rent and that she wouldn't let a repairman in to fix earlier problems.

The legal aid society says state law mandates landlords provide working heaters.

“That would not be right,” said Stewart Pope of the Legal Aid Society. “The landlord would have to repair the gas line. The landlord has separate remedies for collecting the rent.”

But Thompson says local agencies, including the Housing Authority and homeless shelters, haven't been able to help.

“Everyone's told me that they can't help me,” said Thompson. “I just don't see this being a Commonwealth state and they leave me and my family in this condition.”

Thompson says that her last LG&E bill $700, due to the high electrical  usage from the stove and heaters.

That leaky tub faucet ran her water bill up to $300.

Thompson is currently unemployed and her brother earns just $7.75 an hour working at a fast food restaurant.