Three thousand people in LaFayette are without water after flooding from last weekend’s storms caused a breach in the city’s reservoir. The flooding caused massive damage to Chambers County Road 48, which runs next to the city reservoir, washing out the highway and severing a pipe that feeds water to the city.
Residents of LaFayette are now under a water boil advisory and being asked to conserve as much water as possible. They are being asked to refrain from washing cars, watering gardens and other tasks that require excessive water.
The city is currently purchasing water from nearby Huguley. However, the city of Huguley is only able to provide about half of LaFayette’s water needs.
As of Wednesday, the LaFayette City Council was expected to declare a state of emergency for the town. Bottled water is expected to be supplied for residents.
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The city held a press conference Wednesday morning to explain just how grave the situation currently is.
“This is unprecedented. This is not something we see every day, we help with emergencies all the time,” said Katie Hill with the Alabama Rural Water Association.
Ann Gleaton, the Water and Wastewater Superintendent for Lafayette, said the heavy amount of rain both Sunday and Monday caused the reservoir breach. Gleaton indicated the city had received 2.98 inches of rain on Sunday, and 8.02 inches of rain on Monday.
The overabundance of rain caused the city lake to overflow, leading to the breach, the ground washout, and the burst water pipe.
“We have no way right now to pump water from the lake to the plant to be able to pump to town,” Gleaton said. “We’re going to have issues of low water pressure. We’re going to have issues of some people being without water at times, especially during the busy times of the day when everybody’s using water.”
LaFayette city engineer, Allen Tucker, said that due to the flood waters no one had been able to access the area around the burst pipe before Wednesday morning.
The City of LaFayette and Chambers County are now working out a joint plan to try and make repairs. However, there is currently no timeline for when the pipe can be fixed.
“It’s a large project, very large,” Tucker said. “We’re talking maybe as much as 20,000 cubic yards of dirt. That’s 1,000 truck loads.”
LaFayette Mayor Kenneth Vines was traveling back from Washington D.C. after meeting with several state representatives and attended the press conference via phone call. He indicated that the city council would get the ball rolling and make the necessary phone calls to declare a state of emergency in LaFayette.
LaFayette council woman Tammie Williams also indicated the city was working with the county, other cities, federal, and state agency to fix the water problem.
“We are going to do our best to alleviate this problem in a manner that the citizens would be proud of,” Williams said.
“I understand its not a fun time for anybody, I really do,” Gleaton added. “We’re going to work as fast and efficient as we can to get the water restored to LaFayette. If y’all would just please, bear with us.”
After the press conference, LaFayette councilman Michael Ellis surveyed the damage to Chambers County Road 48 where the road had washed out and the pipe had burst.
“It’s going to take a while,” Ellis said while looking over the damage Wednesday morning.
“First we got to make it safe for the people who’s got to do the work to get in here and do their job. And this is very unsafe because you can see the highway there and the cracks in the road… a lot of dirt is going to have to be brought in here to fill this massive hole.”
Ellis added: “We’re blessed. When you look at other surrounding cities and towns that were hit by this storm and the people that lost their lives and all that. We sent prayers out to all those people too. But it’s a blessing that this is all that we got. This can be fixed, but it’s going to take time.”