The winter storm that hit Lake Charles this past weekend has left many residents without water and many locations with burst or frozen pipes.
The City of Lake Charles held a press conference Thursday to discuss the action being taken to restore regular water pressure to those residential and commercial locations as soon as possible.
“I know that people are tired out there, and people are frustrated. The frustration is real and with what we have all been through over the past couple of months ... I can tell everyone out there that we are being very transparent with what has occurred,” said Mayor Nic Hunter, “I assure every citizen of this city that we are moving Heaven and Earth, we are bringing in every resource to get this remedied as quickly as possible.”
At 6:29 a.m. on Tuesday a massive blackout occurred city-wide, taking all six water plants offline at the same time. Mayor Hunter reported that during the window of switching the plants over to generator power, the water reserves were significantly depleted due to the extreme demand.
“At no time over the last few days has the City of Lake Charles cut off its water system,” said Hunter. “We want to be very clear and very upfront. I cannot at this time point to the clock and say, ‘At this hour, full water pressure will be restored throughout the City of Lake Charles.’”
This latest ice storm has been requested by the governor to be declared as a federal disaster, which would make this the tenth federally declared disaster in Lake Charles in the past 25 years and the fourth in last 12 months.
Josh Fontenot with Manchac Consulting Group, a civil and environmental engineering firm, explained that the water pressure is continuing to increase, and the situation is being continually monitored and improved upon.
“We’ve got collectively probably almost 200 years of professional experience in dealing with water systems like the City of Lake Charles,” said Fontenot. “Man cannot design systems to accommodate the demands that are out there under the current situation. The city’s facilities are very advanced facilities … they’re very well-maintained facilities and the city has done everything they can. A lot of issues are being resolved every hour.”
Kevin Heise, utilities director for the City of Lake Charles, assured that all six water plants are operational and working well and are putting out double the daily average. He mentioned that crews have been active in the city since Tuesday and have located and capped approximately 350 private leaks and 5 major leaks.
“We are well over 100 times what our normal daily load is with in identifying and capping off leaks,” said Heise. “Our guys in the field are doing a tremendous job around the clock. This scenario … is very similar to what we experienced with the hurricanes.”
Hunter said every available city employee is currently scouring the city to cut off water to empty structures. Employees from all departments are being trained in how to do this activity as to resolve this predicament more quickly.
“I have spoken with Gov. Edwards. He understands the severity of the situation. I have requested that the National Guard be mobilized to bring in more supplies to the City of Lake Charles,” said Hunter.
Citizens can help by reporting leaks in their homes or in neighbors’ homes by calling either 491-1483, 491-1414 or 491-1346.