October 23, 2014

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LaGrange residents empty shelves, fill tubs amid water shortage

The water aisle at the Giant Eagle in Avon Lake was bare Wednesday evening, as the area prepared for a possible water outage. It was a similar scene in LaGrange, where IGA manager said the store sold out of bottled water. CHELSEA MILLER/CHRONICLE

The water aisle at a grocery store was bare Wednesday evening, as the area prepared for a possible water outage. It was a similar scene in LaGrange, where IGA owner Kathy Poling said the store sold out of bottled water by mid-afternoon. CHELSEA MILLER/CHRONICLE

LAGRANGE — As the water shortage ripples through Lorain County, the village of LaGrange prepared for the worst.

According to IGA owner Kathy Poling, the store on North Center Street sold out of water by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

“We are out,” Poling said Wednesday evening. “And people are still coming in asking for it.”

Poling said her store does not have any scheduled deliveries for water until Friday.

“I am going to make an emergency call into Coke and Pepsi (to see if they can bring out more),” Poling said.

Earlier in the day, LaGrange village officials sent out an alert informing residents of the impending water shortage.

LaGrange Mayor Kim Strauss said village residents do receive their water from the Rural Lorain County Water Authority, which on Wednesday received word that service had been interrupted by Avon Lake Municipal Utilities.

“RLCWA was notified at 1:30 a.m. (Wednesday) that the water intakes in Lake Erie were frozen over and Avon Lake Municipal Utilities staff was working throughout the night to open them,” the notice from RLCWA stated.

Strauss said that affects the 2,100 village residents.

“We sent out the CodeRED asking residents to conserve water. If you have to do something, OK, but otherwise, hold off,” Strauss said.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, LaGrange residents still had water, but many were conserving their supply.

Loren St. Peter said she and her husband have three cases of bottled water for drinking, and three large buckets full for flushing the toilet and a gallon for brushing teeth and hand-washing.

“We still have water so far,” she said.

Staci Crabeels, who has two young daughters, said she and her husband still have water in LaGrange, but are preparing for the worst.

“We are fully prepared for the inevitable,” Crabeels said. “We have 14 gallons in reserve for flushing, sponge baths, teeth brushing and drinking/cooking. Our little girl took a minimal bath at Grandma’s house tonight, and the oldest already showered today. We are as prepared as possible, I think.”

LaGrange resident Kathy Posey said she filled bathtubs with water to use for toilet flushing in case the water supply diminishes overnight.

“I also bought some of the last bottles of drinking water from LaGrange IGA and the very last four gallons of water from Rite Aid in Grafton,” she said.

As for what may happen overnight, Posey has a plan for showering, too.

“I plan on showering at the fitness center at work tomorrow morning,” Posey said.

Not only are residents being affected by the decrease in water, but Keystone Schools may be forced to close for the sixth consecutive day. Students were scheduled to return Jan. 2, but due to inclement weather, school had been canceled Jan. 2 and 3, plus Jan. 6, 7 and 8.

“At this time we are assuming and hoping they will get it fixed, but will not be able to let you know otherwise until tomorrow (Thursday) morning. The bottom line is if they are able to fix the intake valve we’ll have school, and if they can’t, we will not,” Keystone Schools Superintendent Jay Arbaugh said in an email. “Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I know everyone wants to get back to school and we are eager as well.”

But for many in Lorain County, this situation has become a “wait and see” situation.

LaGrange Township Trustee Doug Gardner has lived in Lorain County since 1964 and said that aside from the blizzard of 1978, the weather has not affected people in this manner.

Crabeels said she is waiting to see what happens in the next 12 hours.

“I really cannot believe all this is going on. It’s like Old Man Winter just likes to keep smacking us around. Bitter cold, frozen pipes and now water. Our pressure is way down, it’s only a matter of time before we are out, I’m guessing,” Crabeels said.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.