Residents say better communication from water company needed
TUMALO, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Snow and icy roads may have hampered some people’s Thanksgiving travel plans, but residents of the Long Butte area north of Bend had other holiday weekend woes -- no water from their taps for several days.
But there was good news Sunday night, as the outage was ending.
An 8:30 p.m. Sunday message on the Long Butte Water System's voicemail indicated the system was back online and filling up pipes.
"Most of the folks on the hill have water service already," the message stated, adding that some at higher elevations might take longer, but all shoul be restored by the end of the night.
"Again, apologies -- it's on its way, though," the woman's recording said.
Nearly 300 homes at Long Butte were without water earlier Sunday, some having lost service as early as last Thursday. The residents all share one well as the community’s sole water source. According to residents, most of the homes without water are serviced by Long Butte Water System.
The people who spoke to NewsChannel 21 on Sunday said they had tried contacting Long Butte Water System, but their calls were directed to voicemail and they did not hear back from staff.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with some of the residents to learn their frustrations about the lack of water and lack of communication. Long Butte resident and business owner Jack Charlton said he was first notified about issues with the water system by a neighbor.
Charlton said he and his wife kept a close eye on the dropping water pressure in their home following the neighbor’s warning.
"It was just a matter of, ‘Okay, when’s it going to quit?’” Charlton said. “We didn’t get any warning from the water company itself, and that was frustrating.”
On Friday, the Charltons' water was no more than “just a trickle.” Charlton said he and his wife also had to put a halt to work on the house they are still in the process of building.
“In the grand scheme of things, to build this water system up here had to take some guts, so I do have a little admiration for the owner of the water company,” Charlton said. “Up here is some of the hardest rock in Central Oregon.”
Robert Lawson, Charlton’s neighbor, said he is upset because his sister-in-law’s health depends on accessible water.
“We have my terminally ill sister-in-law living with us, who is extremely fragile,” Lawson said. “When somebody’s got a deathly ill person in their house, you don’t just tell us, ‘Hey, go to town and buy water’ when she should be able to get into a shower or bathtub and clean herself.”
Other residents, however, said people should take this incident as a learning experience and be more prepared for emergencies.
“We’re in a volcanic area and if something like that were to happen, preparedness is key whether it’s losing water, power, gas, a heat source, something of that nature,” said one resident who asked to remain anonymous. “While it’s inconvenient, it’s also a really good learning lesson.”