GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A broken water main in Gulfport shut off water to hundreds of homes and several businesses for about ten hours Monday. Two Harrison County schools were also affected by the water outage.
The city's public works contractor, Utility Partners, discovered the problem shortly before 5:30 a.m. Employees finished the repairs and restored service by 5:00 p.m. However, the water is not yet safe to drink.
On Monday, the talk around the water cooler at Crossroads Elementary was the water cooler itself. The school had to set up coolers to provide fresh drinking water for more than 560-students and staff members.
"We were having our regular school day and probably around 8:30, 8:45, I was notified by my staff that we did not have water. The first thing you want to do is make sure everybody stays calm, and we will put a plan of action to make sure that the students and the teachers are taken care of. I contacted our maintenance department and we had an immediate response," said Principal Natasha Williams.
The school brought in extra water to flush the toilets. Nearby, Bel-Aire Elementary took the same precautions.
"You don't want to deprive any child going to the restroom, but of course, they all were aware we did not have water," said Williams.
The culprit behind the water disruption was a broken main a few blocks away on Pamela Drive.
"I was out here about 6:30 myself, started turning the water valves off. The crew was already en route to come make the repairs," said Utility Partners Supervisor Anthony Parker.
Public works employees had to turn off the valve, then, dig up the damaged pipe and replace it. Water was shut off to homes and businesses from Klein Road west to Wilson Boulevard, and Community Road north to Dedeaux.
"We do apologize for the inconvenience, but just old pipe," said Parker.
Realizing the repairs would take all day, crews restored service to Crossroads and Bel-Aire Elementary within two hours. They did that by feeding the water through a different main. Fortunately, the water outage did not affect lunch preparations.
Even though the water is flowing once again, the schools and homes affected will remain under a boil water notice until they get the all clear.
"You always have a plan in place and realize that your plan may be altered, but the kids' safety is always your top priority," said Williams. "We still had our regular school day, even though it was a short inconvenience."
The city's public works director said expect the boil water notice to last at least two days. He will let neighbors, the schools, and WLOX know when that warning will be lifted.