BEAUMONT ― Residents of this city in eastern Texas are desperate for clean water after the main municipal water pumps failed due to flooding.
Beaumont, which has a population of over 100,000 people, lost both its main and secondary water supplies on Wednesday. The storm caused the Neches River to overflow, which damaged the city’s water pumps, according to city officials. The city’s secondary water source, which is located at the Loeb wells in Hardin County, is also offline.
City officials said the outage is indefinite, pending inspection of the damaged pumps, which they are unable to do until the water recedes.
Beaumont received 26 inches of rain on Tuesday, which is a city record for the most rainfall in a single day, according to the National Weather Service.
Residents were urged to fill up their bathtubs with water, as the city water system was expected to lose pressure early Thursday. But some residents still ran out of water and many lined up outside local stores overnight hoping to buy bottles of water.
Around 2:30 a.m., a crowd of people outside the Speedy Stop convenience store attempted to pick up some of the water bottle cases left outside the closed shop. A policeman intervened, telling HuffPost, “I’m not going to let people just take water. I know we’re in a scary situation, but I had to tell them to stop.”
“Several cars pulled off with water and that’s fine, but we can’t just let everyone load up what they want,” said the officer, who identified himself as Joe Marlboro. “We’re not going to arrest anyone as we’re in a dire situation, but at the end of the day we have to have order and we can’t let them take the water.”
Norris, 67, who didn’t want to give his last name, argued that he wasn’t trying to steal the water.
“We’re not trying to take advantage, but when the news tells you to get out of the city because they don’t know when the water will be fixed, what are people to do? I plan to pay the store for the water. I wasn’t just going to take it,” he said. “We’re isolated here. We may not be able to get water anytime soon, so that’s the situation here.”
Jennifer England, a young mother, said the lack of water was putting her child at risk.