N.J. plumber drives 22 hours to Texas after crippling storm to help fix burst pipes

If you’re a plumber come to texas please. That is the message from the residents there, as burst pipes and extreme supply shortages have plagued the Lone Star State after a deadly winter storm.

Andrew Mitchell, who lives in Morristown, answered the call and packed his family and tools into his truck, loaded up about $ 2,000 of supplies, and drove 22 hours to Houston, where he immediately went to work.

Mitchell, 31, has served around 20 customers since arriving last Sunday, with a handful of others waiting to get their turn. Mitchell promises to get a fair price given the extreme demand for local plumbers across the state.

“I always ask a client what they think is fair and what is left,” Mitchell told NJ Advance Media. “I never try to take advantage of anyone.”

Andrew Mitchell is working on a customer’s pipes.Courtesy of Kisha Pinnock

The need is so great that Texas Governor Greg Abbott appealed to plumbers outside of state like Mitchell and waived the expired license holder and fee requirements. Mitchell decided to lend a hand after learning of the dire conditions from his sister-in-law, who lives in Houston, and seeing plumber friends on Facebook making similar requests.

For 71-year-old Barbara Benson, Mitchell’s handcraft was a godsend after spending a week without water after a pipe burst behind her dishwasher. She tried calling 14 different plumbers, had weeks of arrears, and said some were billed as much as $ 2,000 just to diagnose the problem.

When Mitchell came by with parts in tow on Sunday night, Benson couldn’t have been happier.

“It’s easy to be cheated on as a woman who lives alone, and I was just pleasantly surprised,” Benson told NJ Advance Media. “It was like someone was taking care of me.”

Texas Plumber Storm

Isaiah Pinnock (left) and Andrew Mitchell (right) drove from Morristown to Texas to meet the urgent need for plumbers following a deadly winter storm.Courtesy of Kisha Pinnock

Despite having been in the field for 15 years, Mitchell started his own company, Mitchell’s Plumbing & Heating, LLC last summer. He completed a plumbing training program in 2018 and passed the New Jersey Master Plumbing Exam a year later.

Along with his wife, Kisha Pinnock, Mitchell brought their 2-year-old son Blake and his apprentice and brother-in-law Isaiah Pinnock, all of whom had piled up for the ride last weekend.

Initially, Kisha’s sister set up clients for him, but now the referrals haven’t stopped coming back.

“It was very, very hectic,” Kisha told NJ Advance Media. “Even last night Andrew didn’t come in until 2am and he still got calls at 2am … Calls keep coming in and they’re people who really need help.”

Texas Plumber Storm

Andrew Mitchell works under a customer’s sink.Courtesy of Kisha Pinnock

Almost all of the calls were about burst pipes after record temperatures froze pipes across the state. Now supplies are in critical shortage as sterile shelves are wiped of necessary materials, making Mitchell’s stay in New Jersey all the more beneficial.

And Mitchell doesn’t plan for his overland trip to end anytime soon. He’s thinking about staying longer and sending his wife home on a plane so she can go downstairs with even more supplies.

“It gets him going when people run out of water,” Isaiah told NJ Advance Media of his brother-in-law and mentor. “Much like if a cook … heard that someone was starving, his primary privilege would be to get these people a nice plate of food.”

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