By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Newkirk residents and businesses lost their water supply due to a major line break Wednesday morning, July 21, forcing several businesses to close, and many more to greatly alter operations to remain open.
The break occurred in the 200 Block of South Main Street, near the former Doc’s Grill restaurant. The city received the call about 7:30 a.m., and workers discovered a broken water main underneath a driveway.
“We had an 8 in. cast iron water main that had a 1-in. split that traveled for 4 ft., with 3 ft. of it under a driveway, so we had to cut through the driveway,” said public works Director Greg Summit.
The workers were able to fix the leak later that afternoon with new PVC pipe.
The break was a combination of age and the ground movement.
“It just cracked. It’s an old cast iron line,” he said.
One of the most immediate effects was the closure of the Kay County Courthouse, leaving the parking lot virtually empty as they sent employees home. The Kay County District Attorney’s office and Kay County Court Clerk, located in the former Department of Human Services building, also closed.
“We just closed it because they couldn’t go to the bathroom, and it was closed most of the day,” said County Commissioner Jason Shanks.
Although city offices remained open, the Senior Citizens Center closed, as the break occurred while lunch was being prepared.
“We weren’t able to serve lunch because we didn’t have restrooms, we didn’t have water to wash hands,” said volunteer Ashley Longcrier.
Many other facilities remained open, however, although with greatly-altered operations. Cheeky Burger continued serving customers, but had to get about 25 gallons of water from the store to do so.
“I had to buy gallons of water so I could make tea and wash our hands, and soaked as many of the dishes as I could until the end of the day,” Karla Cheek said.
Opal Nutrition also remained open, and likewise had to rush to find water to operate. Customers that day were fewer than normal.
“Since everything was slow, I went and got water, and I have a kettle that can heat water if we need to wash our hands,” said owner Talby McClure.
Many health facilities had to improvise to see patients, including Newkirk Dental Center, which requires water for oral operations and personal hygiene to keep the patients safe.
“We went to Apple Market and bought gallons of water so we could flush the toilet, but we stayed open the whole time without water,” said Director Misty Jordan. “Our water system is still operational when we lose water, so we used that.”
Water was restored about 4:30 p.m., and the workers continued to make sure the pressure stayed up.
Residents are thankful for the public works department for getting the break repaired.
“The guys did a wonderful job getting the water on, as big as the break was. We were able to be up and running Friday,” Longcrier said.