Despite thaw, wait for water in Oquawka continues

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Nineteen homes and businesses still do not have water in the Village of Oquawka, Illinois. Some have been without water for more than a month. Water service lines are frozen and the problem is even more severe in plastic lines.

Mayor Sandra Moody says there is no timeline for when the water might be back on and that residents likely have to wait for it to warm up.

There are two workers assigned to fix the frozen pipes, but the combination of cold weather and lack of equipment has made for a slow process.

Residents without water say they are upset with the lack of communication from Mayor Moody and are frustrated that they have little information about when water might be back on.

Anthony and Cristal Queen have been living off gallons of water and flushing their toilets with gallon tanks of water.

“You might get lucky if you get two flushes out of one of them,” said Mr. Queen.

The Queen family has been without water for five weeks.

“Like they say, you never appreciate what you've got ‘til it's gone and I miss my water a lot,” said Queen.

Jim Foster, without water since February 13, 2014, has been showering in a decontamination unit available at the Oquawka Fire Department.

“Thank goodness for us to come here and get our water,” said Foster.

The Oquawka Fire Department announced the use of the decontamination unit the week of March 3, 2014, but so far they say only three people have taken advantage of the shower.

After some pressure from those without water at a Village of Oquawka meeting last week for Mayor Moody to get the town some help, she said she had reached out to an Illinois Emergency Management Agency contact on Friday, March 7, 2014. So far, she said, local towns and Henderson County, say they have little help to offer.

“There’s not a lot of resources for us,” said Moody.

Jeff Peterson, Street and Water Supervisor of Oquawka, said from Monday, March 10, 2014 to Tuesday March 11, 2014, three homes and businesses had water turned back on. He said they could possibly get water turned back on at two homes per day, but that plastic pipes are especially hard to thaw.

“We can't even dig in the frozen ground it's froze so hard,” said Peterson.

Some without water are so fed up with the lack of answers and help, they are ready to help themselves.

“I'd be willing to come have them show me where to dig and I’ll start to help with the problem,” said Queen.

Bottled water is available at Village Hall and at the Oquawka Fire Department. Senator John Sullivan will tour Oquawka Friday, March 14, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.