Fresno residents, officials come together to help 100-year-old woman

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- After months of looking for an answer, local businesses came together on Friday to fix the problem of an elderly woman, who has been battling to have a city of Fresno tree removed that was causing her hundreds of dollars in plumbing problems.

On Friday morning, crews were hard at work in southwest Fresno, cutting down and removing the decades-old tree in front of the 100-year-old woman's home.

The tree's roots had gotten tangled with Corinne Reed's plumbing, causing the pipes to leak and her normally $79 water bill shot up to $250 a month.

"That's like three bills for us," says Aline Reed, Corinne's daughter. "But you gotta have running water. My mom's 100. I have to be able to take care of her, cook for her, bathe her. So we paid it. It was heart wrenching for us because we thought the city just did not care."

After months of trying to find some help from the city, she reached out to Reverend Floyd Harris, who held a press conference Wednesday that got the city's - and the public's - attention.

Jack Benigno owns a tree service business in Visalia and immediately jumped in to help, donating his time to help remove the tree.

"I saw on the news that this lady needed help and that her water bill was going sky high," Benigno says. "I know we had a lot of rain this year but we can't afford to waste a drop of water ... We started calling and we got it worked out."

Benigno worked with the city of Fresno to make sure it happened as soon as possible.

"Once it came to out attention, and it generally would have eventually anyway, I wanted to move fast as we could to address this problem because I know she can't afford to pay a $300 water bill," Fresno Mayor Lee Brand says.

Then an anonymous donor stepped in to cover the plumbing and water costs and the city decided to waive any late payment penalties for the past six months.

"Fresno has a big heart and I think if I can be part of this, it makes me feel good," Brand says.

Mayor Lee Brand says the tree will be replaced... but with a smaller one that won't lift the sidewalk or cause future problems.

"It's like an Easter miracle, but the real miracle is that people in Fresno cared enough to help my mother and I'm grateful for that," Aline says.
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