Hazleton residents assess damage to homes after water main break

Published: Mar. 4, 2019 at 6:12 PM CST
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Public works crews in Hazleton estimated every one of the Buchanan County city’s residents was affected in some way by a water main break late Sunday night.

Public Works Director Michael Loomis said Monday that some people had a little water in their pipes, while others had none.

That led to some creativity in Hazleton homes.

“My one neighbor said, ‘Oh yeah, I’m melting snow so I can flush my toilet,’ and I thought, yeah good idea,” said Joan Fox, who spent part of Monday scooping snow from her back porch to melt on the stovetop.

By Monday afternoon, Fox had not had water for hours. But not long before that, water was what covered her basement floor.

“I wasn’t pleased, but there’s not a whole lot you can do,” she said.

Fox, who runs an at-home sewing business, said everything besides her basement carpet was spared from the damage, including seven sewing machines and yards upon yards of fabric.

“It would’ve been in the thousands of dollars, and insurance only covers so much,” she said.

So Fox said she considered herself lucky.

“I only had about an inch, inch and a half [of water],” she said. “A lot of my neighbors had anywhere from four inches to a foot.”

One of them was Wyatt Parkinson, who said the water came up several inches in his basement and didn’t seem to stop for hours.

“I got a garbage bag, put a chunk of carpet into it, put it over the drain, tried to put weight onto it to stop it,” he said. “It kept coming up. I had to sit down here most of the night with a sub pump, pumping out the windows, trying to keep ahead of it.”

Realizing there wasn’t much he could do, Parkinson said he went to bed for a few hours. Then he woke to survey the damage, which he said was much of the contents in his basement.

“We lost a lot of stuff here,” he said.

Parkinson was able to save hundreds of model cars he had collected over the decades.

But it’s the loss of the memories that stung the most.

“Pictures my grandmother gave me. Everything. Everything has to go in the dumpster,” he said.

The toughest loss was a painting from his aunt.

“My aunt painted it when she was 15 years old,” he said. “The following year, she died when she was 16 from leukemia.”

Parkinson said it wasn’t salvageable.

“Garbage. Garbage,” he said. “It’s falling apart. There’s nothing — nothing you can do.”