Busted Water Pipes Causing Headaches Across West Texas

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

WEST TEXAS--Residents are getting a double whammy.  They're running out of places to get replacement parts.

The story was the same at hardware stores in Midland and Odessa.  As prepared as they thought they were to meet customer's needs, looking at their empty shelves, makes them realize nothing could have prepared them for this.

"(We're) selling out of PVC and anything associated with PVC, glues, saws and stuff like that," Stacy Bledsoe, Manager of Cashway West in Odessa, said.

It was a very busy weekend for Bledsoe and his staff.  A never ending stream of customers looking for anything and everything they could get their hands on to put an end to their plumbing nightmares.

"We do, probably about 300 on an average day. On Saturday, we were at about 1,000. We're out of a lot of things now. We made it through Saturday evening pretty well and since then we've been out," Bledsoe explained.

Some residents NewsWest 9 spoke to, were prepped ahead of time on what to expect.

"I have several friends who are in the hardware business and they said don't even try until Thursday of this week, which is going to be after this cold snap. But, we'll do what we can," Joe Bontke, from Midland, who has been without water since last Tuesday, said.

It's up to store employees, like Bledsoe to break the bad news, about the limited supply of pipe and other needed accessories.

According to Bledsoe, "People have been great. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, people have been real pleasant. They realize this is just a problem everywhere. So they haven't been upset or frustrated with us at all."

There is a bright spot at the end of this dark, frozen tunnel. Cashway West will be getting a shipment of much needed materials on Tuesday morning.

"We've ordered quite a bit more than we normally would. In fact, we ordered a lot more, that came in Friday morning, prior to all the de-thawing of the pipes and stuff, and we ran out of it," Bledsoe added.

Even when they are able to make repairs, residents like Bontke will have to hold their breath a little while longer to find out if they'll have to shell out any more money.

"We don't know if have any pipes busted underground yet and we won't know until we get everything back together and pressure up the lines to see if there's water leaking everywhere," Bontke said.

Last week's record low temperatures definitely came as a surprised to many. And hopefully will serve as learning experience for the next time.

"You know, you want to wrap your pipes and have heat tapes and heat lamps on when it's freezing at night. Just be prepared," Bledsoe said.

Bledsoe says he's seen customers from Andrews and surrounding areas who are having the same problems. Cashway West gets stock shipments delivered twice a week. Other store managers NewsWest 9 spoke to say they are going to have to make due with what little they have until their trucks come on Thursday.