Though Harvey has moved out of eastern Texas, the rainfall the city was hit with on Tuesday and Wednesday caused the Neches River to overflow and damage Beaumont’s main pump, which is located along the swollen river.
According to Kyle Hayes, Beaumont’s city manager, the main pump provided the community with 70 percent of its water supply. The secondary source, at Loeb Wells in Hardin County, Texas, only provided about 30 percent.
“We will get through this like we did with hurricanes Rita and Ike,” Hayes said at a news conference Thursday. “We are going to do everything we can to restore water to our citizens.”
Hayes later indicated at the conference that officials have to wait for floodwaters to recede before they are able to determine the extent of the damage.
With a population of over 100,000 people left without a drinkable water source, city officials said three water stations would be created for residents. Their locations have not yet been announced.
— Jim Dalrymple II (@JimDalrympleII) August 31, 2017
Some locals left their homes to try and find bottled water supplies at convenience stores that managed to stay open, but, not everyone was lucky — especially a crowd that gathered at a Speedy Stop store, who were turned away from the shuttered shop by police officers.
“We’re not trying to take advantage, but when the news tells you to get out of the city because they don’t know when the water will be fixed, what are people to do?” Norris, a 67-year-old resident, told Huffington Post. “I plan to pay the store for the water. I wasn’t just going to take it. We’re isolated here.”
Several presumably thirsty citizens were sent away by an officer who didn’t want residents to snatch up water cases left outside a closed establishment.
“Several cars pulled off with water and that’s fine, but we can’t just let everyone load up what they want,” Officer Joe Marlboro told the Post. “We’re not going to arrest anyone as we’re in a dire situation, but at the end of the day we have to have order and we can’t let them take the water.”
Ronnie Miller, the store’s manager, told the outlet he hadn’t been able to open up shop because there was no running water, which is a health code requirement.
“We don’t really have much water to give,” Miller added.
Supermarkets and convenience stores weren’t the only ones forced to pick up and move: hospitals were also hit hard by the water pump failure.
“Due to the failure of the city’s water pump, it is in the best interest of our current patients to transfer to other acute facilities,” Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas said in a statement Thursday. “Due to the city-wide lack of services, we have no other alternative but to discontinue all services which will include emergency services.”
“This is being done immediately,” the notice concluded.
According to the National Weather Service, Beaumont has been hit with 45.73 inches of rain since the storm began.
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