Post-flood water bill flooding woman with debt

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BATON ROUGE - A flood victim owes hundreds of dollars to the Baton Rouge Water Company.

Cotrina Burton's home flooded in August. It wasn't until she planned to move into her new home did she notice a problem with her bills.

She owes the water company about $800.

"That's like basically the rent," she said.

Burton says she doesn't understand how her bill accumulated. She says her family was in such a rush to leave their flooded home on Prescott Road, some responsibilities were forgotten and she never called to shut off her water.

Her family has been sleeping in hotels and getting assistance from FEMA. They moved into a new place last month and started getting their lives organized following the flood. One of the first orders of business was getting their water turned on.

"I'm trying to see what the little balance I had to pay to transfer to this home," said Burton.

The last payment she made to her account was in July. It wasn't until Burton called the Baton Rouge Water Company on Dec. 14 to move her account from her old address to her new address did she realize she was still being charged.

"I'm like, no way I'm going to be able to pay that," she said.

After she called to transfer her account in December, she was told pipes at the flooded home had been leaking. Turns out, her bill was underestimated following the flood and the actual reading was higher. She paid off some of the bill in December, about $400.

A balance of about $800 remains and she's worried her water will be turned off at her new home.

"I hope they can help me out in some kind of way because you can't live in a home without water," said Burton.

The Baton Rouge Water Company says Burton isn't alone and there are thousands of flood victims facing similar bills.

The Public Service Commission meets Wednesday morning to address bills like Burton's and how customers can deal with past debt stemming from the August flood. The meeting is in the Galvez building at 9 a.m.


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