School closed today: Dixmoor battles multiple water main breaks, prompting a boil order

Confusion over whether schools will be open or not Wednesday

ByMichelle Gallardo, Liz Nagy, and Stephanie Wade via WLS logo
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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Crews have been working to repair Dixmoor, IL water main breaks that caused Martin Luther King Elementary and Rosa Parks Middle School to close.

DIXMOOR, Ill. (WLS) -- It is not clear if two south suburban schools will remain closed Wednesday due to a series of water main breaks.

The school district superintendent initially said schools would remain closed another day, then backtracked and said they would be open. As of 10:30 p.m., he said that he could not confirm if school would or would not be in session Wednesday. Parents will likely need to wait until the morning to find out.

Sunday's water main break that closed Martin Luther King Elementary and Rosa Parks Middle School also left more than 1,000 families without water.

Another happened Monday morning off of West 147th Street, and two more were found during a Tuesday morning survey, marking the seventh break the suburb has faced in a matter of days.

Corrosion that's bene eating away at the pipes for the last century is cracking one after the next. By afternoon, the village was battling at least four active water main breaks.

Village President Fitzgerald Roberts recognizes it's a serious problem, and the village is fixing it one patch at a time. But they're having to scramble more frequently; the same thing happened at least twice in July.

RELATED | Dixmoor remains under boil notice after 2 water main breaks repaired, village officials say

"You can't cook, you can't wash. It's a serious problem," he said.

The infrastructure is old, likely more than 100 years old, and can't keep up. Cook County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will pitch in $2 million to the village for repair work that starts in October. For now, they'll hope Monday and Tuesday's patches will hold.

The schools, which make up two of Dixmoor's three, will remain closed for testing by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

There is now also a boil water order -- only in the affected areas of the break. The village president said the order is likely to remain in place until 1 p.m. Wednesday.

SEE ALSO | Village of Dixmoor receives $2M to help solve water issues

While Dixmoor has had the most problems when it comes to water over the last year, it is one the entire Southland area is struggling with and that they can't simply fix on their own, no matter how badly they want to.

"A lot of these municipalities don't have the funding to fix it," said Commissioner Deborah Sims, Cook County Board, 5th District. "You look at Dixmoor, it's a small community. They have enough problems. Unless we can pump enough money into these communities we're going to continue to have these problems."

At least a dozen parents showed up Tuesday morning to try to drop their students off at school, only to be turned away and informed school was canceled for the second day in a row.

"We come in and to my surprise, it's closed," parent Veneos Martinez said. "It's very terrible for the students because it's important. The students waiting for a long time, the summer, to come in."

Chopper 7 HD captured a video of crews working on repairs in Dixmoor on Monday afternoon.

"It's frustrating. Yeah ugh, it's frustrating," parent Chediah Rials said. "My first day of school is today, so she'll be at school with me at Governor State. I am totally astounded. I would think all of this would be done last school year."

The two new breaks found Tuesday are at 145th Street, between Davis and Western avenues, and 147th Street, between Cooper and Leavitt avenues.

"So see you tomorrow," Martinez said.

The village president said the break on 147th is only a few block from the one fixed Monday night.