MOUNDRIDGE — A water line break underneath Moundridge Manor just before midnight on April 18 caused ripple effects to be felt throughout the entire community.
"It was under the floor, and so we ended up having a portion of the Manor flooded from that," said Charles Dyck, chairman of the Moundridge Manor Board.
The break in the pipe is thought to have been caused by deterioration and material fatigue.
Within minutes, at least 2 inches of water and sand made an evacuation process difficult as staff members pushed residents in wheelchairs out of the affected areas, according to news posts on Moundridge Manor's website.
Fire and Emergency Medical Service crews assisted with the evacuation process and water removal, as did the facility's board members and other Moundridge community members.
The Moundridge Manor maintenance supervisor contacted the city to come shut off the water, which meant there would be no fire protection from the building's sprinklers.
"Because it was our fire line, we had to evacuate our residents," Dyck said.
Moundridge Manor contacted other nearby nursing homes and were able to find temporary spaces for all 75 residents.
"By 6:30 the next morning, they had them all re-homed," Dyck said. "It was amazing; we have a wonderful staff here."
The staff gathered information, medication and clothing for each resident and area nursing facilities assisted by sending their transport vehicles out to Moundridge Manor to pick up people.
"We hope to be bringing our residents home later this week," Dyck said. "We've had awesome community support and employee support."
Dyck noted that having to leave Moundridge Manor has been challenging for both the residents and staff, but that they are working to cope with their temporary placements and changed routines.
"It was quite an undertaking," noted Moundridge City Administrator Randy Frazer. "There were facilities throughout the area that were being contacted."
The city of Moundridge had their water tower offline for an inspection at the time of the water line break.
"The pressure in the community dropped. When you have that, you have the potential of a siphoning effect that causes backflow," Frazer said.
Because of those hazards, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a boil water advisory for the entire city as a precaution. To reach as many people as possible, Moundridge city employees followed a prepared water emergency plan.
"We did several different things," Frazer said. "We utilized Facebook and several social media sites that our residents look at."
A press release was issued and schools, nursing homes and the hospital were called.
"We tried to hit as many avenues as we possibly could," Frazer said. "I think we got the word out as best as we possibly could."
Residents were urged to boil any water used for drinking or food preparation for at least one minute, and schools and restaurants were forced to close because of the possibility of bacterial contamination.
"The entire community was affected because of the boil advisory," Frazer said.
The Moundridge Lions Club handed out free bottles of water donated by Wal-Mart of McPherson on the evening on April 19.
"Once we initiated the boil advisory, we had to test our system in several different areas," Frazer said.
It took between 18 to 24 hours to complete the tests. On April 20, the boil water advisory was lifted after samples collected indicated no evidence of contamination.
Frazer said the city of Moundridge will debrief with fire and EMS services, as well as Moundridge Manor, in order to evaluate the water emergency plan's effectiveness.
"I think everybody kind of fell into the place they needed to be," Frazer said. "Things went as smooth as they possibly could."