* This was a huge deal yesterday as water shortages spread…
Rend Lake Conservancy District announced early Friday that 35 hours after a water main break, water is flowing from the Inter-City Water Plant. But things are not back to normal yet.
The district had a breach in a pipe at the plant Wednesday that caused several communities in Southern Illinois to be without water by Thursday.
“The close of one very long day is within sight,” reads a statement from the district distributed by the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency.
A bypass is completed and is now pumping some water into the system while the broken pipe is repaired, according to the statement.
* Things were particularly bad in Marion…
Marion Mayor Anthony Rinella said Thursday that schools were shutting down early and that a variety of businesses, including restaurants, hotels, and dental offices, for example, were following suit. Carwashes and laundromats were closed Wednesday. Hospitals have not been evacuated.
“We’re getting no water from Rend Lake right now,” Rinella said. “They’re telling us that they hope to have the repairs done within 24 hours, but even if that is the case, it will probably take another 24 hours or more to fill the tanks and get back to normal production.” […]
“Don’t water your garden or your lawn. Don’t wash your car. Use as little water as possible inside your home, too,” the mayor cautioned.
Local stores like Kroger, Walmart and Sam’s Club were selling out of bottled water rather quickly Thursday. Rinella said weekend shows at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center were canceled and will have to be rescheduled.
More closure announcements are here. The conservancy district serves several dozen towns.
* From the governor yesterday…
Gov. Bruce Rauner is keeping a close watch on the communities impacted by the Rend Lake Water Conservancy Water Disruption. He has been briefed on the situation several times today and issues the following statement:
“The Rend Lake Water Conservancy District, which supplies water to more than 175,000 people in southern Illinois, experienced a major water main break late yesterday afternoon. Efforts by the district to repair the break are on-going at this time. While there currently have been no requests for state assistance, state agencies are actively preparing to provide support needed to ensure the public health and safety of the many communities served by the district.
“Earlier today the Illinois Emergency Management Agency convened a conference call with several state agencies and mutual aid partners to assess the whole community impacts of situation and prepare for potential deployment of state resources t0 impacted communities until the water supply is restored.
“Our primary concern is the well-being of the people affected by this situation. I want to assure everyone affected that the State of Illinois will do everything in our power to ensure public health and safety is protected until this situation is resolved.”
The governor, I’m told, is heading to the region today. The governor’s office says the Marion mayor spoke personally with IEMA Director Robbie Robertson. A retired firefighter, Mayor Rinella had been the city’s finance commissioner and was automatically elevated to the top post when Mayor Bob Butler, who’d held the office for 55 years, retired earlier this year.
* With all that in mind…
Marion Mayor Anthony Rinella, in an interview with POLITICO last night, expressed anger that the state hadn’t done more to help his community and surrounding towns served by the Rend Lake Water Conservancy District that are struggling with little or no water since Wednesday’s water main break. Rinella issued an emergency declaration. All schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses were ordered closed by 3 p.m. on Thursday and were not to reopen until further notice.
“It’s just been a nightmare,” Rinella said last night. “It’s very disconcerting that 160,000 people can be out of water and the state of Illinois has got its head stuck in the sand, like they didn’t know it was going on.” […]
To that, Rinella responded: “I’m not going to apologize for the governor. He could have taken it upon himself to make a call down here,” Rinella said. “I would think that if I was a governor and I knew that 160,000 were without water, I would have reached out.”
Stoking frustrations? Someone else did call Rinella on Thursday: Rauner‘s November opponent J.B. Pritzker.
“J.B. Pritzker has contacted me three times today. I know JB’s running for governor, but he was kind of wondering why the state hadn’t reached out to me,” Rinella said.
Nice move by Pritzker, but I’m not sure the governor is expected to personally call all 40-some water-starved mayors in the region. Then again, the squeakiest wheel should always be given early attention.
…Adding… Texts from a pal in southern Illinois…
It’s crazy down here, all the restaurants and most all gas stations closed. Cars coming off I 57 from Mt Vernon to Marion driving around aimlessly looking for gas or food and there is nothing open, no signs no direction. Crazy.
Selling bottles of water for $6 in Franklin County last night. People going crazy rich.
I’ve been driving all morning nothing is open between Mt Vernon and Herrin.
Grocery stores are open
It’s the poor folks that rely on tap water