UPDATED 12/12/11 4:03 p.m.
EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (CBS) — The entire population of East Chicago, Ind., had to live without running water since Sunday morning after a massive water main break forced the city to shut off the water supply.
As CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, the situation in East Chicago has been deemed a state of emergency. All 30,000 residents had to survive more than 24 hours with no way to use the toilet, showers or baths, and no running water at all.
City workers worked all day Monday installing a replacement line, and water was expected to be turned back on by evening.
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Director of Emergency Management Herbie Cruz says residents either have low water pressure or no water at all because of a break in a 24-inch water main.
When Adrienne Williams went to her faucet later Sunday morning, she got nothing.
“No water. Can’t wash dishes. Can’t use the washrooms,” Williams said.
The water main break was discovered around 6 a.m. Sunday at Columbus Drive and Adler Street.
“The water pressure dropped so low, that initially, we had to institute a boil order for the city. But eventually that pressure dissipated to nothing,” Cruz said.
The City of East Chicago hauled some 14,000 gallons of bottled water to help lines of thirsty residents in their cars, and on foot.
Resident Crisalida Zamot described the situation at her house Sunday as “kind of not good.
“You’re trying to cook and clean and you don’t have any water so you’ve got to be limited on how much you can go to the restroom. And with four kids, it’s kind of a lot,” she said.
“It’s like you can’t do nothing,” added resident Jovita Villanueva. “You know, you can’t take a bath. You can’t, you know, drink water. So that’s why we’re here, to get some water.”
Each family could pick up a couple of gallons from the city’s public safety building.
In the meantime, crews spent hours Sunday digging to try to fix the problem, and pump away any water that flooded the area.
CBS 2 was told once they find the shutoff valve for the broken water main, they will be able to see just how much damage they have to repair.
“We’ve got an older infrastructure. It’s probably over 100 years old; probably the sewers and stuff have not been fixed,” said East Chicago 6th District Councilmember Gilda Orange. “I know this mayor plans on doing it, and he plans on doing it in the spring. We may have to do it before.”
School was out in East Chicago Monday because of the issues, but classes were expected to resume Tuesday.
At least the fire department was able to operate, using hydrants to feed water to the boilers at St. Catherine Hospital.
The North District trustee in East Chicago supplied the water jug giveaway Sunday, but the city says that could run out. So the city is putting out a plea to anyone with a big supply of drinking water to pitch in.
If you want to help, you can leave a message at (219) 391-8310.