Helena-West Helena city faces difficult decisions amidst water outage

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — Helena West Helena public school students forced to take a snow day as the city works to repair a major water outage.

A Helena West Helena man says he turned on the faucet and nothing came out Wednesday night.

He says it’s been two days since he’s been able to take a bath.

“We have a crisis is what we have,” Helena-West Helena Mayor Jay Hollowell said.

Hollowell says the water outage is so serious the hospital was almost shut down.

“We’ve had to do innovative things to keep our hospital from being evacuated because one of the tanks that were depleted services the hospital,” Hollowell said.

The mayor told WREG just what happened to cause the citywide emergency.

He says there was a 6 foot split in a 12-inch pipe that’s causing the major water outage.

“We got one person who just delivered a child one person on the way to the hospital to deliver another 4 surgeries scheduled 30 people in the hospital and they were saying we really can’t evacuate,” Hollowell said.

Using their resources the fire department came in to pump water into the boiler and keep the hospital warm. Throughout the city residents want to know when the problem will be fixed.

Hollowell says since this is urgent he’s bypassing the bid process and bringing in contractors to put in valves, valves that will cost the city.

“Those valves are not cheap the cost to put them in. They are about 15K per valve,” Hollowell said.

Hollowell says the city can’t afford it but they’ll have to resolve the issue then worry about the rest later.

“It’s over my spending limit but we are dealing with an emergency situation,” Hollowell said.

He’s hoping that things will be back on track by the start of next week.