When a winter storm devastated Texas earlier this month, the crisis hit home for Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell lives in New Jersey, but as a plumber, he saw how much work needed to be done when pipes froze and burst in homes across the Lone Star State. So, he and his family decided to help.
Mitchell's wife, Kisha Pinnock, has a sister who lives in Houston. Pinnock told CBS News that after talking to her sister, she realized how destructive the storm was. "That's when we really learned from first hand just how really bad it was," Pinnock said. "That's when she told us what was happening with her coworkers, her neighbors, her friends."
Millions across the state were left without power and water. Mitchell, who belongs to some plumbing Facebook groups, started to see posts about the need for plumbers in Texas.
"They were just like, 'We need help, we need help,'" Pinnock told CBS News. "I was like, 'This is your time.' Everybody kind of has their time to really shine. And I was like, 'You have the skills, you have the credentials. There's no reason why you shouldn't. You should just go.'"
Mitchell, the owner of Mitchell's Plumbing & Heating, was convinced he needed to use his expertise to help others – even if they were about 1,600 miles away. On Sunday, the couple, their 2-year-old son and Pinnock's brother, Isaiah, packed a truck with plumbing supplies and drove 22 hours to Houston.
Kisha's sister had already set up some clients who were desperate for plumbing help and through word of mouth, they gained more and more customers.
"A lot of customers told us that they couldn't get a plumber on the phone, or if they could get a plumber on the phone, they couldn't help them two – at most four – weeks out. So, during that time they wouldn't have any running water at all," Pinnock said, adding that even plumbing supplies are hard to come by in the area.
Mitchell and his brother-in-law visit six to 10 houses a day, Pinnock said. The men were too busy for an interview, and Pinnock told CBS News that on Wednesday they started at 7 a.m. and returned at 2 a.m.
Pinnock said they are charging for their work, but "the fact is, if he wasn't here, the families wouldn't have water at all." Mitchell also walks people through repairs for free via FaceTime when their issues don't require his in-person expertise.
As for how long they'll stay, Pinnock said they continue to help until the supplies they brought with them run out. "I feel like my husband's really happy here and the calls just won't stop," she said. "And I just know if and when we do leave, there will still be a need. But we'll definitely stay until we run out of materials. There is no end date for us right now. I think we'll definitely be here a few more days."
She added: "A lot of times when you see devastation, it could be across the world, it could be across the country, it could be in your own town, and you really feel like your heart is breaking with them and you can't do anything. But it's like in this instance, we really could."