Local News

'Whoosh!' Town Loses 50,000 Gallons of Water

Posted December 22, 2007
Updated December 23, 2007

— The town of Middlesex lost about half of the supply in its water tower after a tractor-trailer knocked over a fire hydrant while trying to turn around on Saturday.

All repairs were completed by 2 a.m. Sunday, and water service and pressure were restored to all residents by Sunday morning, Middlesex Mayor Lu Harvey Lewis Jr. said.

Tractor-trailer driver Donnell Williams, 49, was charged with driving without a license, driving with expired tags and a movement violation, said Sgt. Steve Glover of the Middlesex Police Department.

Pitt County's Nelson Trucking Company will be responsible for a new fire hydrant, Glover said.

Town officials estimated that about 50,000 gallons, or half the tower's supply, emptied out. Officials originally thought the tower had been completely emptied.

The water tower represents only a portion of the town's entire water supply. Middlesex gets its water from three wells, two of which were being pumped Saturday night to fill the water tank to capacity.

The accident happened on East Hanes Avenue in Middlesex, which is in Nash County.

Crews worked to tear out the hydrant and replace the water valves. For a town that only has a water storage capacity of 100,000 gallons, losing half of that was a very big deal.

“When I saw that water, I said, ‘Oh Lord, we ain’t gonna have no water tonight,’” said resident Marjorie Yates.

Yates watched as the tractor trailer tried to turn around in her front yard and backed into the fire hydrant.

“Well, all the water went whoosh!” she said.

Water started leaking, and the town's pressure started dropping. The race was on to save what water remained.

“It was leaking significantly when we arrived on the scene,” Lewis said. “So, getting the public works people in and getting the valves cut off was priority one.”

The mayor said crews acted fast, but the town still lost a lot of water. A good amount of it flowed straight into Yates' yard.

“We got a little swimming pool out there,” she said.

In a town of 850 people, word of the leak got around fast.

“In a small community, when something like that happens, people start calling wanting to know what’s wrong,” Lewis said.

Losing the water in the middle of the drought did not help matters, he said.


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  • trunkmonkee1971 Dec 24, 2007


  • TheWB Dec 24, 2007

    The Lord giveth, and Donnell, the truck driver, taketh away.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Dec 24, 2007

    Don't forget Conetoe (koh Nee ah). It's not just a southern or NC thing.

    Intercourse Pennsylvania still wins......

  • davidgnews Dec 23, 2007

    Sounds like a case of 'hydro-terrorism.'

  • truck81204 Dec 23, 2007

    Um excuse me mr. area driver but im a trucker and doing a u-turn on a 2 lane road is quite common provided you have about 5 extra feet on each shoulder. And mr. who cares why should charges be filed? the trucking company is going to pay all the repair costs and fines?? and to mr. 37 I bet you a dollar to a nickel you couldn't drive a truck le alone turn one around just because he had a minor accident that makes him "SMRT"

  • zProt Dec 23, 2007

    "They need to make the idiot pay and suspend his CDL license."

    According to the article he had no license. What I want to know is how people get around NOT having a license? Or insurance? Without getting caught.

  • oldrebel Dec 23, 2007

    Isn't this the same sound one can hear when the legislators leave Raleigh at the end of sessions?

  • imrickjamesbitch Dec 23, 2007

    I can't believe no charges will be filed, as much as everyone is screaming about the drought. I am sure 50,000 gallons would wash a few cars and water a few lawns, but instead it just washed down the street.

  • AKA PikeMom Dec 23, 2007

    What is it about North Carolina place names? Middlesex, Erect,Climax...I mean like did they have some issues when they were naming these little towns and villages? ;)

    >>>Lizard Lick,Cooleemee,Mar-Mac. These are three I always thought was a bit cute.

  • areadriver Dec 23, 2007

    Breakaway hydrants are a good idea. They may exist nowadays, but think about the infrastructure of the US, most of it is really old. I've seen hydrants that are over 100 years old, still in use today.
    I think the driver should pay for the water lost and the repair. Any driver with half a brain, should know where he/she is able to turn around at. Given that most roadways have a 10-12' travel lane and the average tractor trailer is around 60', maybe more from bumper to bumper, that's 5-6 lanes of traffic needed to pull a u-turn. I've never driven through Middlesex, but I don't think they have any roads that big. De-de-de.