ROSE CITY, Texas – Thousands of people are still waiting on access to safe drinking water in parts of Texas more than three months after Hurricane Harvey.
The storm and the heavy rains that followed overflowed drainage districts, cut off water and prompted hundreds of boil-water notices across the Gulf Coast. More than a dozen boil-water notices remain in effect across affected areas.
The areas included cities, mobile home parks and housing developments in seven counties across southeast Texas, the Beaumont Enterprise reported . The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports more than 3,700 people in those areas haven't had clean drinking water since late August.
In Rose City, the city's boil notice hasn't been lifted because the plan hasn't met TCEQ standards for pH levels and other chemicals, said Janice Ratcliff, the city's water operator. Running water returned to the city's 600 residents in September, but it still requires a two-minute rolling boil before safe consumption.
"It's been so touch-and-go," Ratcliff said. "It will run good for two weeks but then something will happen. It just makes no sense to remove the notice just to have to go right back on it."
Ratcliff said the city's original goal was to have the notice rescinded for good by Thanksgiving. But issues with insurance have pushed back installing the necessary equipment.
"It's crazy what they put us through," Ratcliff said. "It's just been delay after delay. We understand that insurance companies and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) were so overloaded, but a water facility should come first."
Mayor Bonnie Stephenson said that faith-based organizations have been working to provide Rose City with enough bottled water.
"We've barely had any complaints from residents," Stephenson said of the rebuilding process. "They know that they're working as hard as they can to fix it. Nobody has gotten real mad yet."
Information from: The Beaumont Enterprise, http://beaumontenterprise.com