UPDATE: Restaurants remain closed in Gallipolis, OH as officials look to repair leak
Emergency operations officials in Gallipolis, Ohio are still trying to determine the exact location of a leak that left residents without water for several days and closed restaurants along with some businesses.
Water distribution continues on Sunday, June 8 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the public use area which is located down from the Gallipolis park. Residents who need water can also fill up water containers at several locations including the Health Department, the Gallipolis Water Treatment Plant and the city's developmental center.
Emergency operation officials also say water will be distributed on Monday, June 9 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the public use area for any resident of Gallipolis who needs it.
Restaurants in the city were closed on Sunday, June 8. Officials do not know if the restaurants will be forced to remained closed at the start of the work week on Monday. ________
If you're in Gallipolis, Ohio this weekend, and you're looking to grab a quick bite from Zanzi's or cool off with a blizzard from the Dairy Queen, you can't.
Restaurants all over town have been shut down by the county health commissioner for obvious health reasons.
Officials at the scene of the original main water line break at the Route 7 Bridge from earlier this week are back at work, digging in the same place.
Experts from around the country arrived on scene today with equipment to help find a second leak that is pulling 2,000,000 gallons a day out of the system.
That second leak has delayed the reopening of businesses around town. While restaurants were forced to close by the health commissioner, salons, car washes and some stores chose to close because water is a necessity for business.
The long line of empty parking lots on Route 7 north of downtown is very noticeable. The only cars in those lots were driven by people unaware of the closures.
"With fast food restaurants, you don't have enough time to boil your water, and then make your food, so they had to shut us down," says KFC employee, Iesha Cleland. "Plus, we can't wash our hands, so they shut us down for that too."
Cleland says her bosses at KFC put some employees to work beautifying the outside of the building.
"There was only four, and we have 18 workers, so 14 were unable to work," says Ms. Cleland.
Up the road from KFC, Subway and Wendy's are doing double the business they normally do, because they are on county water, and have remained open.
"I worked six hours last night. It felt like I worked 16," says Subway employee, Dawn Terrell.
While water is running again, more trouble finding this leak, or a new leak popping up could turn the water right back off.
Gallipolis city officials are urging everyone to conserve, and remind the public that the area is still on a boil-water advisory.
Once Gallipolis city maintenance workers finished a temporary line to replace the broken main water line beneath the Route 7 Bridge on Wednesday, they learned they had another, more challenging problem.
They hoped to have water service restored to 1500 customers who have been without running water since Monday afternoon.
Gallipolis City Manager, Randy Finney tells 13 News that once the city tried to bring the whole system back online on Wednesday morning, water pressure was not what it should have been.
That meant that at least one other leak was pulling on the system, and water service could not continue until it was found and fixed.
City workers have been unable to find the leak, but believe it is somewhere in the downtown area.
Crews from Findley and Columbus are expected to arrive next week with equipment to help search for the leak.
"It's not as simple as running out into the middle of the road," says Finney. "It's probably more than likely that it's going into a river, or into a creek bed where we can't see it at this time."
We visited with Jerry Barkey, afternoon DJ for Gallipolis-based radio station, Sunny 93.1, who says in situations like this, the radio station becomes a hub of information for residents to call with questions about updates and water distribution. During the derecho of 2012, they took several calls.
Barkey says the station welcomes the calls, and refers callers to the correct agencies.
He also says most callers have been taking the mass outage in stride.
"I don't see a lot of finger pointing," says Barkey. "It's just like, 'Okay.' It's happening, and we'll do what we have to do to get through this together."
Almost all downtown businesses will remain closed through the weekend, as it may be several days before water service is restored.
Downtown restaurants, specifically, do not have a choice in the matter, as the county health commissioner has shut them down until water service returns.
County health department emergency response coordinator, Jenny Henchey, says her team of volunteers has 22 pallets of five-gallon water bladders that are going quickly. Henchey compares the bladders to a thick-skinned water bed.
Henchey estimates that "those pallets are equivalent to about 45,000 bottles of water."
Much of the water and storage trailers have come from local businesses and volunteers.
While the volunteers could not simply walk across the park to a restaurant for lunch, several Point Pleasant restaurants have brought them lunches for free.
Showers are being offered at the University of Rio Grande and the Gallipolis Developmental Center.
Portable restrooms can be found at City Park, the Gallia County Courthouse, and the Gallia County Health Department.
In addition to these formal, practiced relief efforts, we also found residents from outside of Gallipolis who brought water from their homes or bought extra water at the store to distribute for free on street corners.
Shawn and Christina Sexton live outside of town, and have running water.
After work on Friday, they brought 26 gallons of water and held up a "Free Water" sign. They had numerous takers.
"Karma will reward me," says Mrs. Sexton. "If you do good for others, it will come back to you."
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