The hallways and classrooms at Thornton Township High School sat empty on Tuesday. The school day had barely begun when all of its 1,800 students were sent home due to a water main break which started Monday directly across the street.
"We lost so much water pressure that by the time we started the day we were pretty much at zero levels," said Principal Tony Ratliff, Thornton Township High School. "The schools buses were kind enough to stick around. We notified our parents via the robo-calls."
City crews scrambled to fix the break Tuesday morning, but it's not been easy. Like many other surrounding communities, the extreme cold temperatures have been wreaking havoc on Harvey's aging infrastructure. Thirteen water main breaks have been reported here in the last few days alone.
"We have never had these kind of breaks due to this kind of weather because we haven't had this kinds of weather to push it to this limit," said Rufus Fisher Jr., director of public works. "Most we had done before, maybe three or four."
After they were done at the high school, we followed Harvey's single water department crew as it responded to one call after another. One at a local hospital turned out to be a false alarm.
"We've put in place a prioritization of objectives that will identify certain water main breaks we have to deal with based on priority," said Eric Kellogg, Mayor of Harvey.
That priority list means that if there is no direct effect on residents or traffic, it might be a few days before crews can get to it.
"Our parking lot got filled up with water like a river. We stopped putting cars on that side....and it's been about a week already that's been broken down," said Cruz Rodriguez, Roy's Auto Shop.
The water main break that closed Thornton Township High School has been fixed and classes will resume on Wednesday. Harvey's director of public works estimates that the rest of the water main breaks should be taken care of over the next two to three days.