BEEVILLE — Volunteers, along with city and county employees, converged on H-E-B Food Store Wednesday afternoon.
Their job could have easily become monotonous.
Fill the bag with water.
Seal the bag.
But they all seemed to keep a smile on their faces as they worked, ensuring that hundreds of Beeville residents would have water to drink in this town where little liquid was flowing through the taps.
All of this, each and every gallon, was free — thanks to the generosity of H-E-B.
Those who had water could only count it as a moderate blessing. It wasn’t safe to drink without first boiling it.
Francisco Castillo stood behind the long row of pipes, a clear hose in one hand, a bag in the other.
“I think I hit 100 already,” he said shortly before 3 p.m. “Look at me I am all wet. That is how fast I am working.”
Castillo doesn’t even have water at home.
His faucet too had gone dry.
On Tuesday, residents awoke to faucets that would not yield anything but a slow trickle of water and commodes that would not flush.
Multiple water line breaks during the Thanksgiving holidays had depleted the city’s reserves of water.
Couple that with clogged filters at the city’s pumping station and it becomes what one official called a “perfect storm” of bad events.
Like many, Castillo had not been able to have a decent bath since Monday night.
“It was dripping so I took a bath with the dripping water.”
Heather Castaneda held several of the free bags of water in her hands as she stood in the westside parking lot. With her were her three children.
She and the youngsters were among the many that offered a heartfelt “thank you” to the volunteers as they worked.
She too had to make do with a lack of water.
“Very little water came out last night,” she said.
Her children took baths with what little water she could gather and boil to make it safe to drink and wash with.
Sheila Foreman, H-E-B unit director, along with Fred Morón, store manager, told councilmen during an emergency meeting Wednesday morning about their plans to help.
Foreman said, “It will be one gallon per resident. That would be water they could use to bath with.
“In addition we have a tanker pumping fresh water into our store. So our facilities are open. We have restrooms open.”
Standing by directing traffic were officers from the police department ensuring that everything went smoothly.
“We thank y’all very much for your generosity to this community in our time of need,” said Mayor David Carabajal.
Foreman responded, “This is our community. What affects our community we want to be a part that solution.”
The city and county had also teamed up and were distributing bottled water at Moreno Middle School and A.C. Jones High School.
Residents had only short waits considering the line of cars at times stretched back hundreds of yards.
“Thank you” and “We appreciate it” were just some of the well-wishing comments offered to the city employees and police officers as they placed cases of water into cars.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.