Local News

Ripples from the water main rupture

Sitkans flocked to grocery stores to buy water when the water main broke Wednesday night. (KCAW News)

Sitkans flocked to grocery stores to buy water when the water main broke Wednesday night.

For most Sitkans, Wednesday’s water main break was repaired before it affected more than their evening shower and morning coffee. But the uncertainty was enough to cause some ripples.


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So, what do you do when you hear your town has just 12 hours of water left? For Sitka resident Justin Olbrych, the answer was: fill up the bathtub. In fact, fill both bathtubs.

“And I was thinking, everybody’s filling up bathtubs,” Olbrych said. “And I was thinking, we’re gonna use up that water pretty quickly, probably.”

Other Sitkans headed straight to the store.

“From 8:30 til about 9:30, all the water in the store was gone,” said Ian Fritz, a supervisor at AC Lakeside grocery store. “Once all the water was gone, I was like, ice. Get some ice, put it in a bucket, it’ll melt, you’ve got yourself some water right there.”

Sitka’s Sea Mart grocery store also saw a run on water.

“Interestingly enough, we also sold a tremendous amount of water containers,” said Max Rule, hief Financial Officer at the parent company that owns Sitka’s Sea Mart and Market Center grocery stores. “So I‘d imagine folks were probably taking those containers and filling them up from the tap and getting stockpiled for the evening.”

The rush was intense enough that Rule decided to set some water aside.

“I was concerned that if we got into a situation where the community ran out of water,” Rule said. “And perhaps the pioneer’s home or the hospital or someone needed some pure water, that we would be able to provide that for them, so I pulled back about a pallet of water.”

For Jessica Machay, a manager at the Larkspur Café, the problem wasn’t so much the flow of water as the flow of information.

“There’s not a really good place to find out information online,”
said Machaey. “That’s sort of frustrating.”

The Larkspur normally opens at 8am, but by 7:30 Thursday, the staff still weren’t sure about the water situation. The café stayed closed until lunchtime.

There was one group of people who weren’t pleased when the water returned. Sitka High School students Lucky Miguel and Kaycie Coleman were eating lunch with friends at the backdoor café. And they said they would gladly have taken a few hours without water if it had meant a day off from school.



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