Freeze-damaged pipes leave Galveston County residents cold and dry | Local News


On what for many was the third day of a power outage in frigid temperatures, many Galveston County residents woke to no water or notices to boil the municipal water they did have after burst pipes and excessive leakage caused by freeze damage reduced pressure and forced repairs.

Burst pipes, low water pressure and a backlog of work orders for local plumbers might further delay the return of water services for some residents, who already were enduring the challenges of power outages during some subfreezing days.

Galveston residents Wednesday morning woke to dry faucets and a boil-water notice, while other cities soon followed suit, inspiring a bottled-water buying frenzy reminiscent of hurricane days.

By Wednesday’s end, Bayou Vista, Clear Lake Shores, Friendswood, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City, Tiki Island, Bayview and San Leon municipal utility districts and Bolivar Peninsula Special Utility District also were under boil-water notices.

More than 340 public water systems in Texas had notified the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality of boil-water notices as of Wednesday afternoon. If pressure falls below a certain level, the cities must issue boil-water notices for fear of bacterial contamination in the water, spokesman Brian McGovern said.


By 8:30 a.m., about a dozen residents were lined up in the Walmart parking lot, waiting for the store to open.

Alexandra Morales, an intensive care unit nurse at the University of Texas Medical Branch, had gone to the store immediately after getting off her night shift.

She was at work at the hospital when the city lost water, she said.

Morales was trying to get enough water for herself and her 14-, 9- and 1-year-old children, she said. The loss of water service is just one more thing on top of the extended power outage and the misery that comes with it.

“It’s been awful,” Morales said. “I’m cold. The baby was shivering yesterday.”

By 9:30 a.m., Arlan’s Market in Galveston was out of standard bottles of water.

Maggie Hsu was buying specialty water brands and sports drinks at Arlan’s because the store was sold out of every other kind of water.

“We just came in for water,” Hsu said. “We’re just getting water substitutes.”

Hsu and her husband have been staying at her father-in-law’s house, which had power, Hsu said. She needs water for her 1- and 3-year-old children, however, she said.

“We’re not quite sure what we’re going to do,” Hsu said.


By the time residents woke up Wednesday morning, Galveston’s water reserve levels were dangerously low, Galveston Mayor Craig Brown said.

The city was working to restore water reserves in its East End and West End tanks first and then would fill tanks in the…

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