Miami Public Works Snubbed This 90-Year-Old Abuelita, According to the Internet

Categories: News

Our policy concerning claims involving government and bureaucracy is: If it's egregious, silly, and inept, it's probably true. So we're inclined to believe the story that's exploded on user-generated site Reddit.

According to MRoudet-- or "Mr. Roudet"-- his grandmother, the nice old lady pictured to the right there (click to enlarge for maximum sadness), has been trying to report a drainage problem in front of her house for "several weeks." Finally, a city worker told her: "Put it on the Internet, otherwise nobody will do anything."

Abuelita, mind you, is 90 years old.

At first we thought the worker was telling Grandma to complain via email, which is supremely lowbrow. But Boudet, who has been frequently updating his story, believes that "what he basically said was that his boss won't do his job unless he's embarrassed publicly."

If that's the case, his point has been apparently proven. Boudet claims he forwarded on the Reddit link to his grandmother's Miami City commissioner, Willy Gort, who responded:

Mr Boudet, I will forward your request to public works, Wifredo (Willy) Gort Commissioner District 1 City of Miami

Gort is 70 years old. Old people solidarity! We called his house this morning, but the ringing had all these weird trills and no answering machine, just like when we call our own grandparents.

Boudet says that he later got a response from public works director Nzeribe "Zerry" Ihekwaba:

I will look into the complaint. In the interim, I will be visiting the location this afternoon with staff. Thanks.

Boudet's next update:

So somehow "I will be visiting the location this afternoon with staff" turned into someone else visiting tomorrow by himself.

That's today. We called the director's house this morning, and we're pretty sure we woke up his teenage daughter, who grumpily told us she had no idea where Zerry is.

We're waiting to hear from Boudet himself. Clearly, Miami is still groggy. But we won't rest until we get to the bottom of the saga of The Abuelita, The Drainage Ditch, and The Internet.

Update (9:54): Gort called us back and said that he believes somebody from Public Works has helped the marooned old lady after he forwarded on the complaint. He blamed it on 311, which "doesn't function correctly", and advised Miamians to call their commissioners instead of 311. He also scolded us: "I do this every day. Not because I'm 70, but because this is my job."

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Mike Boudet
Mike Boudet

This is Mike Boudet and that is my grandmother in the picture.  

I was never contacted by anyone from New Times prior to this story being published so here's what is actually going on...

The Director of Public Works Nzeribe "Zerry" Ihekwaba did keep his word and showed up the following day with a crew.  They apologized profusely and promised to rectify the issue.  They explained it would take a year to complete the repairs since they would have to tear up the street in order to fix the drainage problem.  

It seems the city worker was 100% correct that drawing attention to innaction by city officials is the very best way to get them to act.  A plus is that my grandma is now famous on the Internet, for whatever that's worth :)


@Mike Boudet Here's an update.  The city finally did fix the driveway issue.  I hoped to publish another picture showing my grandmother happily rejoicing in victory.  However, she died due to a heart operation she never recovered from.  She was too old and too weak and her body never recovered.  No one to blame, other than those of us that hoped she would be around forever.  

I miss her so much it's hard to focus on anything else.  Weirdly, this article and the social media onslaught that came from it on Reddit immortalized her online and I take some weird comfort in that.  I'm not religious.  I don't believe in invisible people.  But I do take some comfort in the beauty and wonder of a fully lived lifetime being immortalized online in the form of an image.  Everytime I see this photograph I remember how I felt when I took it.  

I love that woman.  She is the perfect example of a decent human being.  She is a lesson by example.  Some day, maybe if I work at it, I can be like her.  I love you, Abuela.  I love you so much.  Rest in peace.


Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault