Schools out, thousands in Perry County remain without water after cold weather

kward1@herald-leader.comJanuary 13, 2014 

Students in Perry County haven't returned to school from winter break, first because of the cold weather and now because of water problems that have plagued the county as a result of the weather.

As many as 2,000 water customers still were without water in Perry County on Monday night.

"This water thing, it's just been a nightmare for everybody," schools superintendent Jonathan Jett said.

In addition, some Johnson and Floyd county residents were without water, according to the Associated Press. The Floyd County Health Department in Prestonsburg and the Pavilion in Hazard have been offering free showers to anyone without water.

In Perry County, all schools were closed Tuesday because four schools were without water.

"We're already into June based on the days we've missed," Jett said. "We also have potential for snow (Tuesday) night. It's not looking good."

Sam Stacy, chief of the Hazard Fire Department, said several problems had made it difficult to get the water on again.

On Jan. 7, when temperatures were below zero, the intake to Hazard's water plant from the North Fork of the Kentucky River iced over for about three hours, Stacy said, shutting down production at the plant during that time.

The city of Hazard supplies water to more than 9,000 customers throughout Perry County, he said.

At the same time the plant was down, water usage was up because many people left their water running to try to prevent their pipes from freezing. That caused storage tanks to become depleted, Stacy said.

When the weather warmed and the ground thawed, there were shifts that caused a number of water line breaks, several of which were in main lines, he said.

"That further depleted what we had," Stacy said.

At the peak of the problem, about 3,000 customers were without water.

He said 1,500 to 2,000 customers were without water as of Monday night, but workers were beginning to get water turned on to many customers in the southern part of the county.

When asked when everyone might get water again, Stacy said, "I would be afraid to guess."

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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