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United Family shipping 100-plus tons water to help with Abilene's water emergency

Lubbock Avalanche-Journal - 2/16/2021

Five shipments totaling 100 tons of water will be sent from Lubbock to Abilene by the end of Tuesday as Abilene faces a citywide water crisis caused by the ongoing winter storm.

The United Family of stores started shipping out trailers loaded with pallets of water from its distribution center in Lubbock starting around 6 a.m. Tuesday following reports late Monday that Abilene's municipal water service was indefinitely shut down due to power loss.

Abilene, with a population of about 125,000, is about 160 miles southeast of Lubbock.

Nancy Sharp, United's communications & community relations manager, said by early Tuesday afternoon the company planned to send at least 200,000 pounds of water to Abilene in five shipments.

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By Monday evening, bottled water was already in high demand in Abilene after city officials announced they'd have two to three more hours of tap water left at normal consumption, according to the Abilene Reporter-News. What was still flowing from the taps late Monday would need to be boiled. By nighttime Monday, the taps had run dry in Abilene.

United's stores in Lubbock have not been immune to rolling power outages, but the Hub City by Tuesday had generally fared better than other cities in the state, and store shelves looked to be fairly well stocked.

Until June 1, Lubbock is still in the Southwestern Power Pool - a different grid than the ERCOT grid that supplies Abilene and much of the state of Texas.

What happened in Abilene

Power lost to Abilene's three water treatment plants will not be restored anytime soon, city officials said Monday, according to the Reporter-News. And when it is, the city will require people to boil water for safety.

"Our water system as a whole, and that includes the city of Abilene system and its wholesale customers base ... is or is going to be without water," Rodney Taylor, the city's water utilities director said in a news conference Monday at City Hall.

The building was using generator power to make its update.

Frigid temperatures caused power outages that led to the situation, Taylor said, those outages leading to loss of pressure and "now, loss of water at the customers' taps."

How long it will take to restore water is not yet known, city officials said. Mayor Anthony Williams said the situation could be over in 24 hours or stretch into four days.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: United Family shipping 100-plus tons water to help with Abilene's water emergency


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