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City of Whitehouse 'struggling' with demand on its water system
  • Updated

The city of Whitehouse said Monday afternoon crews are “struggling” to keep up with the demand on its water system.

City Manager Leslie Black said the water system has experienced water main breaks and damage from electrical system fluctuations during and after the winter storm.

She said around 10 a.m., the city system had a 12-inch water main break that impacted the system in two ways.

Crews had to shut down the operation of one of the booster pumps to relieve pressure on a nearby valve and to ensure the safety of workers. Because of this, a large amount of water is needed to refill and recharge this line.

Black said this has made it challenging to meet the demand for water.

One of the city’s six wells stopped functioning. This well pump was replaced last summer, Black said.

The pump likely stopped due to the fluctuations in the power supply over the past week. The city’s contractor responded immediately and was on-site making repairs Monday, she said.

The main computerized controls of Whitehouse’s water system also suffered significant damage during and after the storm.

An antenna located on top of one of the water towers had to be replaced and new cabling needed to be ran down the length of the tower. As this system was repaired Sunday and Monday, workers continued to experience failures in other linked equipment and due to electrical fluctuations.

The city of Whitehouse is urging residents to conserve water as many people are without water. The Facebook post added that residents should try to use water only for necessary purposes like flushing and bathing.

On Sunday, the city’s water update said the boil water notice is expected to go through Thursday. Black said Monday that timeline is still on track.

Black added that crews are working around the clock to get the water system to be fully functional. The city has brought in additional crews to ensure quick responses to water main breaks or leaks.

Anyone in need of water assistance should contact during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 903-510-7500 and dial option #3 or after hours at 903-245-8274.

Whitehouse ISD plans Whitehouse ISD is moving to remote instruction for all of its students this week due to the city’s water boil notice.

Superintendent Christopher Moran said Monday beginning Tuesday and through Friday virtual learning will be in place as city water crews work to restore the water system for flushing toilets, washing hands and having clean drinking water.

Moran said the district plans to return to face-to-face instruction March 1.

Elementary school students, including Pre-K through fifth grade, should expect to be contacted by their teacher with specific instructions. Secondary students, or sixth through 12th grade, will be contacted by their campus principal with instructions, according to Whitehouse ISD.

Trane Technologies in Tyler expected to be full production this week
  • Updated

Following last week’s snowy weather-related damages, the Trane Technologies facility in Tyler is under going repairs for full production to resume this week.

Last Thursday, people began to notice and took photos of a roof with snow accumulation at Trane, located at 6200 Troup Highway in Tyler, collapsed.

According to a Trane spokesperson, the winter storm and snowfall was the cause of the damage, but no one was injured as none of the employees were working in the area at that time.

“We are committed to ensuring our teams stay safe and we will continue to serve our customers as always,” the statement from Trane read. “Our employees’ well-being always comes first, and we are ensuring that they have the help they need through the weather conditions we are experiencing.”

Teams of employees are working to repair the damage and the main plant will be in full production this week for Trane to “continue meeting all (its) customers’ needs.”

According to the company website, Trane is a world leader in air conditioning systems, services and solutions.

Trane provides energy-efficient heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, building, contracting and energy services, parts support and advanced controls for homes and commercial buildings, the website stated.

Storm damage? Federal assistance may be available
  • Updated

Smith County residents and business owners who sustained damage in the recent winter storms may be eligible for federal assistance with FEMA and the Small Business Administration.

Smith County is one of 77 Texas counties originally listed in a federal disaster declaration approved for Texas.

The eligible counties named in the federal disaster declaration are: Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson and Wise.

On Monday, 31 counties throughout the state and some in East Texas were added. These include: Anderson, Austin, Bosque, Bowie, Burnet, Cherokee, Colorado, Erath, Fannin, Freestone, Gonzales, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Hill, Houston, Hunt, Jackson, Jim Wells, Jones, Limestone, Lubbock, Medina, Milam, Navarro, Rusk, Taylor, Tom Green, Val Verde, Washington and Wood.

Here’s information on how you can apply for federal assistance.

Disaster Assistance from FEMAHomeowners or renters who sustained individual damage can apply for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Assistance includes financial help for temporary lodging and home repairs; low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses; and other programs to help people and businesses recover.

Those with insurance who are applying for disaster assistance must also file a claim with their insurance company. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance, but you may be eligible for federal assistance if your insurance does not cover all of your losses.

There are several ways to apply for assistance:

  • Visit www.disasterassistance.gov.
  • Call toll-free 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. any day of the week. Persons using a relay service such as videophone, Innocaption or CapTel should update FEMA with the specific number assigned to that service.

When calling, make sure you have a current phone number where you can be reached, your address at the time of the disaster, the address where you are now staying, your Social Security number (if available), a general list of damage and losses and your insurance policy number, agent and company name (if insured).

FEMA is recommending residents take photos to document damage and begin clean-up and repairs to prevent further damage. Residents should keep receipts from all purchases related to clean-up and repair.

Disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration

Low-interest federal disaster loans are also available from the U.S. Small Business Adminsitration, including:

  • business physical disaster loans up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged property, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. There is no business size restriction, and private, non-profit organizations like churches, charities and private colleges are also eligible.
  • economic injury disaster loans up to $2 million, which are working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private, non-profit organizations meet financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.
  • home disaster loans, for homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and property.

Applicants must have an acceptable credit history, ability to repay all loans and collateral for physical loss loans over $25,000 and economic injury disaster loans over $25,000.

A virtual business recovery center and virtual disaster loan outreach center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. Email FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or call (800) 659-2955.

To be considered for disaster assistance, applications must first contact FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov.

For SBA loans, applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/.

Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

Live in a county not covered by the disaster declaration?The Texas Division of Emergency Management is encouraging residents to complete a self-reporting damage survey to help officials identify damage that has occurred from the recent winter storms.

The survey will also help provide information to FEMA and the federal government about the need for federal disaster assistance for individuals, TDEM said.

The survey is available in both English and Spanish at www.tdem.texas.gov/warm.

“I urge Texans to fill out the Self Reporting Damage Survey and provide crucial information on the winter weather impacts to their home or property,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement. “The information gleaned from this survey will help our state identify the full impact of this winter weather and help emergency management better serve Texans.”

City of Tyler on track to lift boil water notice Tuesday; water crews work thousands of overtime hours
  • Updated

As the winter storm caused Tyler and East Texas residents to stay indoors, Tyler Water Utilities crews worked thousands of hours in overtime to maintain the city’s water system.

Forty-four TWU employees worked 3,000 hours of overtime during the storm, LouAnn Campbell, public information officer with the city of Tyler, said Monday.

Campbell said 25 water main breaks were repaired over the weekend, while about 35 breaks were in need of repairs as of Monday afternoon.

She said the breaks occurred throughout the city, and the issues were not specific to one area.

“This week has been exceptionally challenging, but we’ve seen the whole community pull together,” she said. “Crews worked 24/7 to make sure life and safety were protected. It was a team and community effort to conserve water so the hospitals could continue to stay open and treat patients.”

After lab samples of the city of Tyler water were taken Monday morning, the boil water notice is expected to be lifted Tuesday. 

According to the city of Tyler on Monday, the lines have been flushed and lab testing is expected to take 18 hours. Once the boil water notice is lifted, residents should flush their lines for 15 minutes.

The city will send out a notification when the boil notice is lifted.

The water boil notice was issued on Feb. 17 after rolling blackouts at the Lake Palestine Raw Water Pump Station caused the Lake Palestine Water Treatment Plant to become offline. This caused low pressure and the need for residents to boil water.

In preparation for the winter storm, Campbell said city officials requested through Oncor that the water plant not be included in the rolling blackout.

“The water treatment plant staff ordered chemicals and confirmed receipt, checked generators and continuously checked fuel levels and reserves,” she said. “The city monitored the weather and departments began inspecting equipment, ordering supplies, planning shift schedules and set up a communication tool which kept key leaders in constant contact with each other.”

She added that staff prepared buildings for the storm and the street department planned routes for de-icing. The traffic and signals department prepared stop signs and generators in case of outages. Facilities were also set up buildings for staff to stay overnight due to road conditions.

Customers experiencing water loss should contact the Golden Road Water Treatment Plant at (903) 597-6541 after-hours. The city’s service center will be partnering with private contractors to assist with repairs this week.

Campbell said the city street department also worked to treat and clear roadways to allow essential workers and emergency responders to travel in Tyler.

“We will be working throughout the week to take care of streets and roadways. TWU crews will continue to work on water mains,” Campbell said. “Water and wastewater treatment plant operators worked and even stayed at the plants to make sure water continued to flow which allowed the hospitals to remain open. This was a team effort by the city staff, and it will continue to be as we go into the recovery phase.”

Mayor Don Warren and City Manager Ed Broussard spoke with other local, county and state officials to share resources for clearing streets and roadways. City officials worked with local vendors to get supplies and fuel as well as faith-based organizations to set up warming centers, she said.

“We will do an after-actions and lessons learned analysis to determine best practices and improvements that can be made to our processes,” Campbell said.