HAZLETON, Iowa (KWWL) – The boil water advisory has been lifted following a massive water leak in Hazleton, but several residents are still cleaning up.
The water main broke Monday night, draining the city’s water tower and cutting off water supplies for nearly a day. During that time, bottled water was brought in and Oelwein opened up the showers at the school for people needing them.
Now all that remains visible at first glance is a gravel patch on Benton Street and a street covered in ice.
Rick Wulfekuhle, Buchanan County Emergency Management Agency coordinator, said it was worse than city crews originally thought. Water found it’s way into the sewer system and flooded several homes.
“Their initial onset was they thought it could be going in one of the sewer ports, but then they decided there was a breach in both and that’s what actually had happened,” said Wulfekuhle.
Dumpsters sit in front of several homes on Benton Street as homeowners clean up the mess in their basements.
Julene DeHart was one of several people tossing out their belongings. She lost the space she had set up for when her children come to visit.
“I had carpet. I lost all my carpet. That’s where they would sleep at night. I had a table down there and everything else,” she said.
Across the street from DeHart, Roger and Bonnie Carson are on their second dumpster. Their basement filled with 8-10 inches of sewage and water, ruining nearly everything.
Wulfekuhle said had the city continued to keep pumping water into the tower and through the water lines, the situation could have been a lot worse.
“If you were to have gone back in and purge that system, they would have caused more damage within the properties that were affected and possibly further damage to those that weren’t affected at the time,” he said.
He also said another concern during the time when water was shut off was that of fire. Neighboring fire departments were put on stand by to send tanker trucks in case fire broke out.
Hazleton mayor Liz Miller said they are working with homeowners to clean up and have also filed an insurance claim to help cover the cost of the damage.
Both Miller and Wulfekuhle said it was a difficult leak to find as it didn’t come to the surface immediately.