EOC opens at climax of water shortage
by Gary Kent
Dec 06, 2013 | 223 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bee County Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Bridge informs the City Council of steps being taken to deal with loss of water Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the city.
Bee County Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Bridge informs the City Council of steps being taken to deal with loss of water Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the city.
Editor’s note: The water boil notice was lifted at 2 p.m. Friday.

BEEVILLE – Two waterless days created plenty of aggravation for Beeville residents.

However, the situation was more critical for a number of operations in the city.

During Wednesday morning’s emergency meeting at City Hall to address the situation, Bee County Emergency Operations Coordinator Robert Bridge brought home the potential seriousness of a water emergency.

Bridge said one of his first acts was to partially man the county’s Emergency Operations Center on the second floor of the Bee County Justice Building.

He said his first concern was to ensure that the doctors, nurses and staff members at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville were able to properly care for their patients.

He said another medical concern was the number of residents in the county who depend on the city’s two kidney dialysis centers.

Bridge said the staff at the EOC had a list of dialysis patients in the city and county, and they were monitoring their conditions to see of any of them needed to be sent to other locations.

Keeping in mind that dialysis patients need treatment at regular intervals, he said arrangements had been made at dialysis centers in Alice and Corpus Christi to take Beeville’s patients.

Bridge said the hospital was not in “dire straights” as of Wednesday morning. “But it’s not the most comfortable situation.”

Bridge said schools in the city were not a concern. They had closed at 10 a.m. Tuesday and had been closed on Wednesday as well.

The coordinator urged all city and county residents to register their home phone numbers, cellular phone numbers and email addresses with Blackboard Connect so they could receive timely notices of emergency situations.

The coordinator also said that his office would remain in touch with the local radio station, Blackboard Connect and the Beeville Publishing Co.’s website to make sure they were getting the latest information to city residents.

Bridge invited local businesses which were offering water services to explain how they were organizing for the emergency.

He promised to provide manpower assistance and police crowd control personnel for those efforts using city and county personnel.

When City Council members brought up the subject of fire control, Bridge referred to Beeville Volunteer Fire Department President Ronald “Buddy” Hardy.

Hardy told the council that the department has several thousand gallons of water stored in tanker vehicles at the C.M. “Smitty” Smith Central Fire Station on the east side of City Hall.

Hardy told Councilman Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez that the department had contracted neighboring fire departments, and they were ready to assist the BVFD.

If there had been a fire emergency on Tuesday, “You would have had water,” Hardy said.

The department president said Fire Chief Donnie Morris was out of town on Wednesday.

Martinez also expressed concern about the fact that local businesses, mainly restaurants, had closed down during the emergency. He wondered if there would be a way to compensate them for their losses.

Martinez recommended that they contact the EOC to determine if compensation would be available.

However, Mayor David Carabajal reported Thursday morning that the EOC had been deactivated.

Council members then passed a motion to compensate the EOC for its expenses related to the water emergency.

Martinez said the city would not have found itself in the water emergency situation this week if voters had approved a $15 million bond issue on the ballot earlier this year.

That issue, if it had been approved, would have provided the funds for the city to develop several well sites and a reverse osmosis filtering plant to provide an alternative water source for the city in just such an emergency.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at
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