Frozen pipes leave Illinois town without water for six weeks

By WEEK Producer

March 13, 2014 Updated Mar 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM CDT

OQUAWKA, Ill. -- Some residents in Oquawka, Illinois have been taking showers at a fire station for weeks because they have been without running water in their homes.

Frozen water lines are to blame for living life without the basics of showers and working toilets for six weeks now.

"It was not a lot of fun,” said resident Jon Warren. “It was frustrating at times and getting hot water from the church next door and fire department, but at the same time I had to treat it like I was camping. There was nothing I could do about it."

Jon Warren had his water restored two days ago after being dry for one month. Still, there are 19 households struggling to live their day-to-day lives.

"We just have to help one another out as people in the community, just as folks were able to help me out,” Warren said.

The fire chief said this is one of the coldest winters they have had in decades.

"There is really no estimated time. It's been a really rough winter,” said Chief Troy Jern. “I know the city guys have said a lot of the metal lines are unfrozen. It's the plastic lines they're having problems right now getting thawed. It's just time to solve the problem. It's unfortunate people have to wait. It's a very sad deal."

In the meantime, the local fire station and community are providing hot showers and clean water to families in need.

As for the pipes, a welder and two city employees are working to shake up the remaining ice.

"We're doing the best we can to get everybody going, we're waiting on some brass saddles to get in because yesterday we were able to dig and get a new plastic line in to get a service back up. This morning we did have success with our welder,” said Water and Street Supervisor Jeff Peterson.

With warming temperatures and help from the community, the remaining 19 residents eagerly wait to have their water restored.

"The first hot shower, I was in the shower for about a half hour just enjoying the fact that I had hot water,” Warren said. “You don't realize how much you take that type of thing for granted until you don't have it."