Residents of a West Texas town slowly regained some water service Wednesday, officials said, after a main break on Tuesday left the community dry during an early summer heat wave.
When a pipe under the famed oil boom city of Odessa broke, an estimated 165,000 people in the region suddenly lost the ability to open their taps for basic household functions such as drinking, cooking, cleaning and toilet use.
The main break was repaired at 3: 45 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, according to statements from City Hall and and State Rep. Brooks Landgraf, R-Odessa, who praised workers for spending “hours in the mud” to make the crucial patch.
“The City has begun to turn the system back on slowly to maintain the strength of all lines,” according the city statement. “After full pressure is reached, the city will remain under a boil water notice for the next 24 hours.”
In a statement to his constituents on Wednesday, Landgraf said “normal water service could happen as soon as tomorrow night.”
“We’re not out of the woods yet, but the recovery effort is in full force,” he added.The water break could not have happened at worse time for Odessa, as temperatures soared in an early summer heat wave.
The mercury hit 100 on Tuesday and was expected to reach 98 degrees on Wednesday and 96 degrees on Thursday. It had reached an 105 on Saturday, three days before the main break.
When the first drops flowed through her taps at about noon on Wednesday, 35-year-old Odessa resident Amanda Provence said she felt “absolute relief.”
And in a region known for oil production and high school football, water for bathing is beyond essential.
“I mean, we’ve got hard workers that are in the oil fields and that’s not exactly a clean occupation,” Provence added. “I know we’re all ready to have showers available again.”
Odessa residents had braced themselves for several days of no water, but generally remained calm by leaning on friends from other West Texas cities such as Midland and Lubbock, said Joe Weaks, a 51-year-old pastor at Connection Christian Church of Odessa.
“There was help nearby,” said Weaks, whose church rounded up volunteers to deliver bottled water to vulnerable residents. “People did handle this well.”
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.