When John O’Neill tries to wash his hands these days in Lynn Center, Illinois, he gets no water from his faucet.
And O’Neill isn’t alone. Most of the small, unincorporated Henry County town has been without water since Sunday.
“It’s pretty hard because it’s basically isolated from everywhere,” O’Neill said. “There’s no other source.”
A broken water main under the BNSF tracks on Sunday morning is to blame. Now, the railroad is clearing the way for an emergency dig with a certified contractor to clear up the mess.
BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg hopes the crew will complete repairs as soon as possible.
It’s been quite an ordeal for Stuart and Kathy Etheridge. They volunteer to run the Lynn Center Water Association.
“We feel guilty because we’ve got water,” she said.
Having water enabled her to make a batch of noodles on Wednesday. But she worries about some 36 homes going without it.
“We may have water here on this side of the tracks,” she said. “But we’re not sleeping.”
“It’s a hardship,” Stu added. “There’s no doubt about it.”
According to the Etheridges, a lack of liability insurance held up the plans for a one-day repair job. As of Wednesday afternoon, BNSF said it had resolved those issues.
In the meantime, Rich Knock is filling whatever containers he can find.
“It’s amazing how much your everyday life involves water,” he said.
He’s making multiple trips to the hose to care for his horses. It’s a situation that’s getting tougher by the hour.
“A lot of elderly people who can’t haul water like I can, they might have to go live someplace else,” he said.
That scenario should improve now with clearance for repairs. It might take a few days before workers can put the new water pipe into place.
“It really makes you appreciate the water,” Kathy concluded.