In late February, Houston health officials ordered a mandatory boil water notice for the entire city’s freshwater system after a historic break in a water main pipe that provides 50% of Houston’s water left drivers stranded on a flooded freeway awaiting rescue. Along with the large-scale flooding that occurred, restaurants were ordered to shut down immediately, schools halted their day-to-day operations, and businesses were forced to close.
The University of Houston and Texas Southern University closed for consecutive days as the entirety of the Harris County courts were shuttered. Schools within the Houston Independent School District were also closed for an extended period as well.
Firefighters rescued multiple people from the city’s 610 East Loop after more than a dozen cars were trapped due to the high-rising water. Fire chief Samuel Peña also said tanker trucks were deployed around the affected areas of Houston due to the concerns that firefighting capabilities could be disrupted due to the lower water pressure.
“This was a major, a major break,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a press conference to address the situation. Turner told reporters that private contractors, attempting to repair a minor leak, were moving soil around the 96-inch water main in east Houston when it broke. “When you are dealing with an aging infrastructure, you are going to have these main line breaks,” Turner said. “And in some cases, they are major arteries and can cause a major disruption.” Turner has repeatedly suggested that the pipe burst is another example of the city’s increasingly glaring issue of aging infrastructure. The Houston Public Works and Engineering Department stated that the 96-inch pipe was only 35 years old at the time of the incident, well before the expected service life expiration of 50 years for concrete pipes.
 Stanglin, Doug. “Houston Schools, Businesses Closed After Pipe Bursts, Causing Flooding.” USA Today, 28 Feb. 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/28/houston-water-main-break-flooding-boil-advisory/4901547002/
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