After water main rupture, officials hold bottle distribution, issue boil water notice

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials set up three water bottle distribution centers in Fort Lauderdale after water was cut off in the area to deal with a water main break near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

7News cameras captured volunteers at one of the distribution centers loading cases of bottled water in car trunks, Thursday evening.

Austin Nugent, who came to pick up bottled water, said he finds it hard to believe he might be without running water an entire day.

“Twenty-four hours? Twenty-four hours! Now I need my water,” he said.

“My husband got an email. That’s how we learned about it,” said Fort Lauderdale resident Barbara Barry.

Meanwhile, employees at a Publix on the 17th Street Causeway assembled a display of water bottle cases near an aisle, as shoppers put the merchandise in their carts.

“It came through on my text message, and as soon as I get the text message, my fiancé called, like, ‘Babe, we have to go get water,'” said a woman.

“The Publix is like a hurricane, my wife said,” said resident Mark Logston. “I work out in Weston, so I went and got water and ice out there.”

Another Publix shopper said the building where she works was shut down.

“The building closed — I work in downtown — and I got a text message saying that we’re going to be out of water for 24 hours,” she said.

Water can be found at the following locations:

  • Beach Community Center (3351 NE 33rd Ave.)
  • Mills Pond Park (2201 NW 9th Ave.)
  • Riverland Park (950 SW 27th Ave.)

7Skyforce hovered above Mills Pond Park and Riverland Park as long lines of cars snaked around parking lots and roadways for blocks.

Some drivers said they’ve waited for hours.

Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Robert McKinzie was on hand at the Riverland Park site.

“We’re providing water for those who may not have or are anticipating not having water, so they can have water through the night,” he said.

The Florida government is sending down two tankers full of water to assist.

At the Beach Community Center, residents Erna Straub and Betty McCloskey braced for a long afternoon and evening.

“We have no water to take a shower or anything, not even to wash our hands,” said Straub.

“We also have no air conditioning because the filters for the air conditioners in the condos, you can’t use the water,” said McCloskey.

Officials said boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice.

Residents wasted no time stocking up on bottled water and preparing to boil.

“We filled every pitcher we had and every pot,” said Barry, “because if you don’t have water to flush the toilet, that’s not good.”

Michelle Holly, who got the day off work due to the rupture, said she and her family are prepared for several days of disruption to her water service.

“He filled these containers, these are filled with water,” she said as she showed plastic containers on her kitchen counter.

Holly then opened her refrigerator.

“He put water in containers in there,” she said.

Many residents experienced low water pressure and at times no pressure at all throughout the day.

City officials said, as repairs continue, so could disruptions.

“I’m sure that whoever is responsible is being held accountable, and they’re probably mortified,” she said.

In a tweet, Broward Public Schools officials confirmed the closure of all affected campuses, camps and offices, adding camps will remain closed on Friday.

Resident Evio Landa dipped into his hurricane supplies.

“I always buy extra food and water right before hurricane season so you’re prepared, so you don’t have to beat the crowds,” he said, “because every year we’re gonna have hurricanes, and every year it’s the same thing, so you might as well be ready for it.”

Logston said he is putting the water service interruption into perspective.

“My wife’s from Puerto Rico, and her family was without water for six months, so we’re not going to complain for 24 hours,” he said.

McKinzie said they are doing everything in their power to fully restore water services as soon as possible.

“We should have this problem repaired tonight, hopefully, based on our estimation of the water break, and get people back to their normal way of life.”

A woman who came to get water bottles said she feels grateful and relieved for the city’s actions.

“It’s great. It’s great for the residents. We’re glad that we have this type of assistance,” she said.

The bottled water is only available to residents of Fort Lauderdale. Officials said anyone picking up water bottles is required to show proof of residency, so they advised them to bring a driver’s license or state ID.

Officials said the distribution sites will reopen at 8 a.m. on Friday.

A 24-hour neighbor hotline has been established to help those affected by the water main break. The hotline can be reached at 954-828-8000.

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