Beaumont, Texas, already dealing with severe flooding, now has no clean drinking water supply, save for the rapidly depleting bottles of water in some stores.
According to CNN, “Beaumont, east of Houston, has no running water after both its water pumps failed, forcing a hospital to shut down. City officials could not say when service would be restored.” Thousands of people are affected.
Baptist Hospital in Beaumont had to evacuate patients and “shut down emergency services Thursday because the city is without a working water supply,” Weather.com reported.
The water supply loss is “indefinite,” city officials said, according to The Huffington Post. Beaumont is located about 100 miles from Houston.
The water crisis is occurring as the Texas community is still reeling from massive flooding, with pleas for help still coming in on social media and Beaumont’s needs somewhat overshadowed by the focus on Houston.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Floodwaters Knocked Out the City’s Main Pump
How did Beaumont end up without clean drinking water? According to the Beaumont Enterprise, which has been offering important reporting to its residents even in the midst of the crisis, “Beaumont is without a water supply after floodwaters knocked out the city’s main pump station near the Neches River before 12:30 a.m. Thursday (August 31). The city of 120,000 also lost its secondary water source in Hardin County.”
According to The Huffington Post, “The storm caused the Neches River to overflow, which damaged the city’s water pumps.”
The Beaumont Enterprise reported that the city is working to restore the water supply but doesn’t have a timeline for doing so because the plants are flooded and repairs can’t start yet. Meanwhile, city officials are trying to set up water stations, but there’s another problem: The roads into Beaumont are also flooded, leaving the community an “island,” the mayor told the Beaumont Enterprise.
As a result, as of August 31, the city had only managed to get a single truckload of water into Beaumont, reported the Enterprise.
The Beaumont Police Department wrote on Facebook on August 31, “The City of Beaumont is working to restore the water supply as soon as possible. During the current water outage it is recommended that you shut down your water heating system. Turning the water heater off will prevent it from overheating or catching fire when the tank runs dry. Gas: Twist the dial on the top of the thermostat from the ON to the OFF position, and shutoff the gas supply valve to the tank. Electric: Switch the circuit breaker for the water heater to the OFF position.”
2. People Begged for Help & Water on Social Media
For days, people in Beaumont, Houston, Port Arthur, and other flooded communities have taken to social media to beg for rescue, food and, now, water.
Dramatic rescues were made as the town flooded.
There were pleas for help on social media for people still trapped by floods.
Animals were also in dire need of help.
Police said there were rampant rumors. “RUMOR CONTROL: Entergy/City of Beaumont is NOT cutting power to residents. (Unless your house is under water and it is a safety issue or a sub station goes down due to high water) They are re routing those lines and working to keep power up,” Beaumont police wrote on August 31. “We have numerous Federal and State resources here and on their way. Media organizations are getting calls asking for assistance from the government and saying there is no help here. We are working closely with Task Force teams from all over the United States, National Guard, Coast Guard and too MANY teams to list. We do NOT need private boat owners to respond to Beaumont for assistance. If you are in an emergency situation (life threatening not just minor water in your home) call 911.”
It’s perhaps the most extreme irony that, surrounded by water that is threatening their lives, people need water to live and were running out of it to drink.
Beaumont was swamped with 26 inches of rain on Tuesday, August 29 alone, according to The Huffington Post. Photos show the community deluged with flood waters. There is a federal prison in Beaumont, but it has not been evacuated.
3. The Hospital Required 50,000 Gallons of Water to Run
Hospitals require a lot of water. “The hospital needs about 50,000 gallons of water a day to run,” hospital medical director Ali Osman said to Weather.com. “The hospital administration tried to procure that water from water tankers, state and local resources. So far, we are unable to.”
The site reported that the hospital was evacuating its sickest patients first and predicting looming disaster if water doesn’t arrive soon.
“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 care facilities,” Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas said August 31, according to NPR. “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.”
4. Some Stores in Beaumont Have Bottled Water & Are Limiting How Much People Can Take
Luckily, there are a few stores with water in Beaumont, and they have opened their doors. The Beaumont Enterprise listed these stores with water on August 31:
Kroger on Dowlen
H-E-B on Dowlen and College
Dollar General on College, Dowlen, and 11th
Family Dollar on College
Family Dollar on 11th Street (single bottles, no cases)
Market Basket on 105 at U.S. 69
All CVS stores will be closing at 6 p.m.
Valero on 105 and Eastex, near Market Basket
Shell at 105 and Major
Dollar Tree in the Gateway Shopping Center
StopNGo on Calder Avenue (bottles)
Lowe’s on Dowlen until 5 p.m.
Salvation Army on I-10 and 11th St.
Southeast Texas Food Bank (by car only).
Read more here.
People lined up outside stores to get water, Huffington Post reported.
5. The Military Is Planning to Bring Fresh Water to Beaumont
Enter the U.S. military. FEMA Director Brock Long said that the military will “help get water to the city’s nearly 120,000 residents,” NPR reported.
Police posted these photos on Facebook:
“We’re working with partners at DOD and state to open points of distribution to service citizens there in that dire situation,’ Long said, according to NPR.