Portales streets flooded again

Freedom Newspapers: Karl Terry Water department employees Roberto Sanchez, left, and Daniel Fetterman start a large pump to aid in evacuating water from around a water main break Sunday. The break caused water service to be interrupted overnight for up to 60 percent of the city.

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — For the second time in 15 months, a broken water main on the west side of Portales flooded city streets and interrupted water service for up to 20 hours.

More than half the city was without water from about 3 p.m. Sunday to noon Monday, according to city officials.

The break was located adjacent to Super 8 Motel on U.S. 70, according to Public Works Director Tom Howell.

The latest problem caused Eastern New Mexico University to close Monday Portales and Public Schools to cancel classes.

Similar to an incident in February 2006, Portales city officials said the emergency response and shutdown for repairs went smoother this time.

By nightfall Sunday, potable water tankers had been brought in to supply Roosevelt General Hospital and Heartland Continuing Care with water. Another tanker was located at the First Baptist Church.

The problem appeared to be with a 24-inch line — the same size line, but further west from the break that occurred last year. The entire city was without water for more than 20 hours following that break.

A water department employee received a call about 3 p.m. Sunday about low water pressure at Portales Industrial Park. When he went to investigate, there was water everywhere.

City crews began pumping water away from the area immediately and water was running at curb level on First and Second Streets down to Avenue K for awhile Sunday.

Work had to be suspended temporarily Sunday night as a severe lightning storm passed over the city. Once the lightning danger passed, crews continued working through the rain and darkness on the repair.

After replacing a section of pipe, crews began systematically turning the water on throughout the city shortly before noon.

Howell said planning and mapping done after the 2006 water main break helped minimize the headaches on this crisis.

“I think all in all, it went pretty smoothly,” Howell said.