Beaumont, Texas, with a population of nearly 120,000, is in desperate straits due to the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. The main municipal water pumps failed, leaving the city without its water supply.
The city’s main and secondary water supplies went out of service on Wednesday as a result of the overflow of the Neches River, which damaged the city’s water pumps, according to city officials. The city couldn’t turn to its secondary water source at the Loeb wells in Hardin County; it was also rendered inoperable.
On Tuesday, Beaumont was hit with a record 26 inches of rain.
Beaumont Fire Department Captain Brad Pennison told 12 News Now that the department may ask for additional water tankers from the State of Texas.
Early Thursday morning, at roughly 2:30 a.m., a crowd of people was prevented by a policeman from seizing water bottle cases left outside a convenience store. The policeman told The Huffington Post, “I’m not going to let people just take water. I know we’re in a scary situation, but I had to tell them to stop.” Joe Malbrough, police chief of the Beaumont Independent School District, echoed, “Several cars pulled off with water and that’s fine, but we can’t just let everyone load up what they want. We’re not going to arrest anyone as we’re in a dire situation, but at the end of the day we have to have order and we can’t let them take the water.”
Meanwhile, even before the store opened at 7 a.m., roughly 200 people waited outside the Walmart Supercenter in Beaumont to buy water.
Administrator Brock Long said federal officials are aware of the “dire situation” and are working with state and local authorities to find a solution.
A spokeswoman for Beaumont’s St. Elizabeth Hospital informed HuffPo that the hospital budgeted 1 gallon of potable water per person, per day at the hospital.
The Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas released this statement on Thursday:
Due to the failure of the city's water pump, it is in the best interest of our current patients to transfer to other acute care facilities. Due to the city-wide lack of services, we have no other alternative but to discontinue all services which will include emergency services. This is being done immediately.