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Residents Scramble for Water, Supplies as Plant Goes Down With AM-Flood Rdp, Bjt

July 26, 1993

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) _ Restaurants closed their doors and handwritten signs saying ″no ice, no water″ appeared in store windows as the city coped with the sudden loss of its water supply.

″I’m mad. Anyone should be. They could have given us more warning,″ said Caroleen Daniels, who stood in a line Sunday to get water from one of five distribution points.

The Missouri River crested at 33 feet Saturday, topping a levee and flooding the water plant, which serves nearly 80,000 people.

Kristi Sinn, a spokeswoman for Missouri-American Water Co. estimated it could take up to four days or more before seven damaged pumps and a control panel could be repaired at the privately owned plant.

The woes here in the birthplace of the Pony Express are similar to those in Des Moines, Iowa, where 250,000 people went without tap water for 12 days. Des Moines now can bathe and flush the toilet, but drinking the water still is prohibited.

Gov. Mel Carnahan said he telephoned Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for pointers on handling the water outage.

″This is a major crisis, but it is being managed,″ Carnahan said after visiting St. Joseph on Sunday.

At St. Joseph’s Krug Park, about 100 people carrying buckets, coolers and trash cans waited in 80-degree temperatures to get fresh water.

Residents also swarmed grocery stores to buy bottled water and other supplies. Portable toilets were on the way.

″I’m going around trying to find anything I can. ... You can only get 10 gallons a day, and I have five people in my family,″ said Diane Clark, who was buying milk at a convenience store where water and ice was sold out.

″They’re getting pop and frozen foods and anything that’s easy and quick to cook,″ said Rachelle Bergeron, assistant manager at Cub Foods. ″And lots of paper plates and plastic silverware. We’re already wiped out of that.″

Before the levee overflowed, water already was in the basement of the riverside plant. The new crest reached the main floor, soaking motors and other equipment.

Sue Parton of Elwood, Kan., was staying with relatives in St. Joseph after she was flooded out of her own residence last week. She visited Ford’s Drive Inn, which was open for several hours with slow-running water.

″I have my faith, that’s how I’ll get through this. Things can always be worse,″ Parton said.

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