In Beaumont, water receding, but not a drop to drink

Beaumont working to restore clean water system
Beaumont working to restore clean water system

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Story highlights

  • A boil-water advisory, originally issued Friday, remains in effect, city official says
  • City sets up distribution points, forms partnership to get water to disabled, elderly

(CNN)Things are looking up in Beaumont, with one major exception: There's still no water to drink.

Harvey's floodwaters are receding. Cool, dry air is in the forecast. The city began offering limited services to residents Tuesday. Power is almost wholly restored. Residents are returning home, even if it's to begin the sad business of assessing what Harvey left to salvage.
Yet, the city was still without the stuff of life Wednesday, as a boil-water advisory remains in effect, said Fred Richardson, water utilities operations manager for the city.
    The advisory means that residents must continue bringing any water from household taps to a full, rolling boil for 2 minutes before consuming it, in order to kill off any bacteria or microbes.
    This includes any water residents use to brush their teeth, or to wash their face or hands.
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    "In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes," explains the advisory, which was originally issued Friday.
    Beaumont officials announced Thursday the city announced it had lost its water supply and would lose water pressure within hours. The city's main pump station, which draws drinking water from the Neches River, stopped working as the Neches rose in Harvey's aftermath. The city also lost a second water source in neighboring Hardin County.
    "We will have to wait until the water levels from this historical flood recede before we can determine the extent of damage and make any needed repairs. There is no way to determine how long this will take at this time," the original advisory said.
    Richardson told CNN on Wednesday he still did not have a time frame for when the advisory would be lifted for the city 118,000 people, located 85 miles east of Houston.
    Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, which thought it was prepared for Harvey, was particularly hard hit by the water outage. Hospital administrators decided Thursday to evacuate scores of patients, including newborns. Intensive-care and dialysis patients were airlifted to other hospitals.
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    Over the weekend, the city announced its Municipal Transit System had partnered with Meals on Wheels to get water to homebound elderly and disabled residents.
    The city also opened three water distribution points, at Babe Zaharias Memorial Stadium, Ozen High School and Westbrook High School. They will stay open until 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).
    To keep things moving, residents are asked to roll down their passenger-side windows or pop their trunks, so officials can quickly distribute water, two bags of ice and a box of meals ready-to-eat to each vehicle.
    "Remember, we are Texas Strong and we will get through this. Take a deep breath, have compassion for others, be of help when possible and please be patient with those who are working long hours in the heat to distribute these supplies," a city news release said.