Lightning strike topples tree, breaking Belle water main, boil order ends today

By Edward Gehlert, Staff Writer
Posted 9/9/21

BELLE — The City of Belle was plagued with numerous water main breaks starting last Thursday and continued into Labor Day weekend, causing boil advisories to be issued for affected areas of the …

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Lightning strike topples tree, breaking Belle water main, boil order ends today

Posted

BELLE — The City of Belle was plagued with numerous water main breaks starting last Thursday and continued into Labor Day weekend, causing boil advisories to be issued for affected areas of the town.

The first break occurred on Sept. 2 at 8th Street and Tellman Avenue, leaving residents in the area without water and a street closure until the early evening hours. 

Water problems continued for the city the next day when another water main on 5th Street, behind Casey’s, started leaking. This caused city crews to close the street as they worked on fixing the issue.

City employees were out again Saturday morning to work on another water main leak, this one located on the corner of 8th Street and Apple Street. It was reported that a tree had been struck by lightning and is believed the root system channeled the blast into the water main.

On the City of Belle’s Facebook page Mayor Josh Seaver stated in a post on Sept. 4, “It appears that lightning struck a tree on the south side of Apple overnight. The roots of the tree are wrapped around or in close enough proximity to the cast iron pipe as to send a charge through that line. Due to the age and condition of our infrastructure, that charge was enough to cause the cast iron pipe to crack and break in multiple places.”

Seaver went on to post that, “public works employees are currently sourcing parts and working diligently  to get this problem solved. These guys have worked 40 plus hours in the past three days, strictly on water leaks... they are wet and exhausted. Please be patient.”

Seaver examined the site and confirmed lightning had been involved saying, “Lightning hit that tree or close enough to it; if you look there’s holes on both sides of that tree where the dirts blown out of it.”

Seaver also mentioned the water infrastructure in Belle is old and needs a lot of work to avoid issues like this in the future.

“It’s (the infrastructure) not going to get better until it’s fixed,” said Seaver.

The crew worked for 24-hours straight to get issues under control and had assistance from Jason Lewis of the Bland Public Works Department. Lewis brought some needed parts along with a water pump for the city workers to use. 

Seaver posted to Facebook, “Trey (Schlottog), Rodney (Turner) and Tony (Baretich) are going on 24 hours of continuous work and are about 3 hours away from wrapping up.  If you see any of these fellas please let them know you appreciate their hard work.”

Seaver praised the work crew again for their commitment to the city on Monday during an interview saying, “Those guys worked their tails off. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the way they worked for us. Those guys stayed the entire time until it was done.”

Seaver thanked the public for their patience and wanted to remind everyone the best way they can help in these situations is to give the crews plenty of room to work and pay attention to street closings.

Currently the city is waiting for the water to dry out before completing the covering and finishing work at the affected areas.

The boil advisories are currently expected to end on Sept. 8.

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