‘Just in shock’: Atlanta-area residents react to boil water advisory
Metro Atlanta’s Carol Yancey was planning to spend a festive Christmas vacation with her large extended family. But she said the threat of possibly contaminated water in Clayton County put an end to her vacation plans.
Boil water advisories were issued this past weekend and this week in Metro Atlanta Georgia counties including Clayton, Butts, Forsyth and parts of Dekalb, Haralson and Monroe. Freezing temperatures caused pipes to burst and valves to freeze, leading to low or no water pressure in many homes.
The Environmental Protection Agency has previously said that a loss of water pressure could potentially lead to water contamination.
“This is when you really get the community — the unity in it,” said Yancey, a community activist. “We don’t wait for the chosen ones. We step in and try to do what we can – we find out something, we tell somebody else.”
Some metro Atlanta residents affected by the boil water advisory say they learned about the possibility of contaminated water from friends and relatives rather than from water authority officials. With many local officials on hiatus over the holidays, these residents say they have taken it upon themselves to help each other through the ordeal.
Forsyth County resident Kristen Flory said she found out about the boil water advisory from a friend a day after the county posted the Christmas advisory on the city’s website. water authority. Forsyth lifted its boil water advisory on December 28.
“I was just in shock that I had to go to their website to learn more about possible contaminants that could be in our water,” Flory said. “They should come out and send a mass message saying, ‘Hey, just to let everyone know, we got this and you need to boil your water until further notice.'”
Spokespersons for Butts, Forsyth and Haralson counties told ABC News that their agencies use a combination of alerts on their websites, social media posts and news announcements through local radio and television. to inform residents.
In the meantime, local authorities have set up bottled water distribution sites for residents. Forest Park in Clayton County has distributed more than 1,900 cases of bottled water as of Dec. 27, giving out one case per family, according to Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler.
“I have to leave those details to the Clayton County Water Authority,” Butler said when asked when the water system would return to normal. “We ask for extreme patience during this time as the water authority is working on a permanent resolution.”
Water authorities in counties that are still affected told ABC News that boil water advisories are expected to be lifted Dec. 29 or 30 after test results are received.
On the Clayton County Water Authority’s website, residents experiencing little or no water pressure are asked to call a phone number to notify the agency. But when ABC News attempted to call the number Wednesday night, an automated message said the service was experiencing system problems and was unable to process calls.
“I can imagine how inundated they are with calls and inquiries they’re getting right now. But no, I haven’t heard of anything,” Butler said when asked if the Forest Park residents have complained about not being able to get to the Clayton. Departmental water office.
Clayton County Water Authority chief executive Bernard Franks did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
About 3,000 homes and businesses experienced low or no water pressure in Butts County, according to Alyssa Hopson, executive director of the Butts County Water Authority. Other water authority officials contacted by ABC News were unsure of the estimated number of homes affected.
Forsyth County’s water was likely uncontaminated and boil water advisories were issued with great caution, according to Russell Brown, director of communications and external affairs for the county water board.
Yancey, who says she does a lot of community work in Clayton County, thinks about half the people she’s come in contact with in the county have water pressure issues.
Yancey has normal water pressure in her home, but plumbers had to tear down the walls of her neighbor’s house to repair broken pipes and restore proper water pressure.
“To know that the infrastructure can shut you down, shut down the county, the water system,” Yancey said. “It reminds me of what happened earlier this year in Mississippi.”
Yancey is referring to Jackson, Mississippi’s water crisis earlier this year, where its 150,000 residents were left with contaminated water and little to no water flow through their faucets after bad weather weakened its water infrastructure. Residents of Jackson are currently facing another boil water advisory due to freezing temperatures.
Despite the circumstances, Atlanta-area residents say they have no choice but to plod.
“We’re just trying to make sure that we educate the community as a whole,” Yancey said. “And we take care of each other because the last five letters of community are unity.”