ROCKINGHAM — Two firefighters from the East Rockingham Fire Department drove a tanker to Brunswick County early Friday to assist that county’s fire departments in the wake of a water main break that prompted a state of emergency and mandatory conservation measures.
Lt. Rex Boone of ERFD said his department is one of several sending water tankers to Brunswick County.
“Their main waterline busted and they were unable to get it fixed,” Boone said Thursday night. “They have been working on it for quite a while now. They need water bad. They’re sending different departments down. We’ve got Asheboro, Randolph County, Morven and I think Wadesboro are all going down.”
Boone said he was not sure whether the incident was related to Hurricane Matthew.
“They had a lot of damage, but I don’t think it was anything like Lumberton,” he said. “I don’t know. I was called this morning from the chief to ask me would I be willing to go down. It’s me and Chad (Reier), another fireman, so we’re going to leave out of here at about 4 (a.m., Friday) and head that way.”
Junior Firefighters Zach Allen, Brenden Watson, Kendal Watson and John Sewell joined Boone and Reier Thursday night, readying the tanker for its journey to the coast.
“I think more or less, we’re going to be shuttling water, because the whole Brunswick is out of water,” Boone explained. “That’s Holden Beach, Sunset, Ocean Isle, Shallotte. We’ve got to meet at Southport by 10 in the morning, and they’ll probably send us to a department where we’re going. They will deploy us down there. I’m carrying a tanker, since that’s what they requested. We’re carrying down 1500 gallons of water when we go down.”
According to a statement on Brunswick County’s website, the mandatory conservation measures are in place for all customers of public water while repairs are being made.
“I think some of the people who have got wells and stuff, they might have water,” Boone said. “But being inside the city limits, they are completely out. From what I gather it’s the main waterline that busted. We’ve got a board member down there that’s got a place there at Holden, and he called back and told me the water has been out.”
Brunswick County also posted frequently asked questions concerning the water main break to its official website Friday.
“The break in the raw water main is located approximately 200 feet off the road, in an area that was already saturated with rain from Hurricane Matthew,” the FAQ reads. “Water leaking from the break in the pipe has contributed to the flooding around the pipe. To be able to access the break, both to assess damage or to work on repairs, crews have had to bring in pumps to drain the area around the pipe. Initial plans to repair the pipe were unsuccessful. Crews have started working on a temporary bypass around the break, which will allow water to flow while repairs are made, but there was preparatory work to be done and parts that needed to come in before that work could begin.”
The break, following so closely on the heels of the hurricane, reminded Boone of the coastal devastation during the height of the storm.
“Down there at Myrtle Beach, even with all that rain those three houses burned, and really, they couldn’t do anything about it,” he recalled. “It just went from one house to another. Brenden and them were down there at the time and they actually saw (the aftermath of) it. That much wind and everything was just pushing it.”
The water main break, Boone said, may or may not be a direct result of Hurricane Matthew — but when a fire department is called on to help, that’s what they do, no matter the reason.
“They’re wanting tankers down there to come and help,” he said. “We’re going to stand by and support the other fire departments with the water they need.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.