Running water is back on at Guardian Apartments in Helena

Guardian Apartments Water Work
Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 10:30:18-04

HELENA — The managers of the Guardian Apartments in Helena say their residents have running water again, after the system was shut down for about four days.

They shut down the water last Thursday night, after a sewer backup flooded the building’s basement. While work was still being done outside the building on Tuesday, they said the sewer line had been repaired Monday night, and the water turned back on.

Karen Burkett owns Real Estate Management Specialists, which represents the apartments’ owners. She said, when they initially shut off the water, they believed the issue would be resolved quickly, but plumbers had a hard time clearing the clog in the sewer line. “The block was so big and so hard, that they could not get it dislodged,” she said. “It even broke some of their equipment.”

Burkett said the clog was caused by a massive number of items that shouldn’t have been flushed down the toilets. “Pieces of metal, door handles, silverware and plastic bags and towels and sheets and clothing,” she said. “It was a lot of stuff they finally pulled out last night.”

The managers brought in portable toilets for the residents while the work went on, and Burkett said they and the Salvation Army provided pallets of water.

The Guardian Apartments offer Section 8-eligible housing for those needing rental assistance. They currently have about 110 residents, many of them disabled.

Residents that MTN heard from said they were thankful to have their water back on, but frustrated with how long the repairs took.

Burkett said, if they had chosen to declare the units temporarily uninhabitable and evacuate the residents, the owners would not have been required to provide them with alternate living arrangements.

“That could have been disastrous,” she said. “We chose the road of trying to keep them housed, which is what we did.”

Burkett said her company has been managing the Guardian Apartments since last July, and she wasn’t aware of any previous issues like this in that time. She said they will be asking residents to make sure they don’t flush inappropriate items going forward.

On Tuesday afternoon, workers still had to cover over the section of Logan Street that had to be dug up to reach the clog. The street was closed, with residents and visitors having to drive in through an adjoining parking lot.