Council Bluffs Under Boil Order, Motorists Flee Sinking Car

By: John Chapman, Chase Moffitt Email
By: John Chapman, Chase Moffitt Email

 BOIL ORDER: Boiled or bottled water should be used for:

  • Drinking
  • Making Ice
  • Brushing Teeth
  • Washing Dishes
  • Food Preparation

Anyone experiencing a problem with their water should call 712-328-4672.

Council Bluffs is under a boil order for 24 to 48 hours due to a massive water main break that occurred early Wednesday morning at North 9th Street and Avenue E.

The break happened around 2 a.m. No one ever lost water service.

Council Bluffs Water Works General Manager Doug Drummey tells Channel 6 News the water main break caused pressure throughout the system to drop. As a result, bacterial contamination can occur, which is why the boil order was issued.

Residents are urged to boil water before drinking or cooking with it. Washing hands or showering from tap water is okay, though as an added precaution, Council Bluffs Water Works suggests using hand sanitizer after washing hands.

Anything that draws from the water system will need attention, including ice makers, some water filter systems and some coffee makers.

As for homes in the immediate area that might have been flooded, those homeowners should file a claim with their insurance company now and possibly file a claim with the city later.

The city is now running tests to confirm whether there is any bacteria in the water. "The main concern we have now is to get these samples set up and tested, get the results back and lift this boil advisory back as soon as we can," says Drummey.

The hope is that the water boil alert will be lifted by noon Thursday. Officials reported at 9 a.m. the break had been repaired, the system flushed and the main disinfected.

Residents said it wasn’t the first time they've had trouble with water pipes in their area. “About two to three years ago and then it happened when I was really little a couple of different times on the same spot up here,” said David Roth.

Leroy Davis was taking it in stride, checking out the crews and all the work that will have to be done to return his neighborhood to normal. Inside his home, water coming out of the faucet looked okay, but wife Janet had the stove busy boiling water so they can get through this emergency. “It’s gonna get fixed, it just kind of worries everybody, but what are you going to do?”

Dave Peters had a flooded basement. "It was up to here and then I got two bedrooms in here you can see back here how sloppy wet it is.”

Peters just had his basement waterproofed. Now he's now got a lot of work to do. “Toilets were filled up, backed up with muddy, dirty water, the sinks were all backed up with muddy and dirty water. I don’t know why it came in my sewer line, none of the neighbors are backed up at all."

Earlier, Peters had another big problem. He was driving east on Avenue E when he turned right onto North 9th Avenue and that is when Peters said the road gave out. “Screaming, please get out, help.” Screams of panic and fear echoed in the streets. “Oh my God, please don't fall in."

Channel 6 News had just finished a live shot during the Daybreak broadcast when the loud crack of the metal undercarriage of an Oldsmobile caught everyone's attention standing nearby. “The water is clear up to my steering wheel and I'm soaked all the way up to my seat so I'm thinking got to get out of this car,” said Peters.

After he discovered his basement was flooded, Peters was on his way to grab a Shop-Vac from work when he turned onto 9th Street. That's when he said the road collapsed under the car. “All I could think about was I need to bust this window out because it wouldn't roll down, it ended up catching to go down, so I could get out the window."

Peters and his passenger escaped without injury. “When he opened the door it just started flowing in, my car just started filling up with water and it had me scared thinking about when floods do happen like that."

Could he feel immediately how cold the water was? "Oh, froze solid instantly. My toes are frozen solid and I've changed my socks three times." The whole scene would play out in just 35 seconds. With some damage, the car would be towed home.

Peters plans to file a complaint with the city because he believes at the time he was on the road there were few or no barricades blocking access around the water main break.

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