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Businesses cope with lack of city water

Boil order in effect until at least Sunday

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Jim Behren of Behren’s Blumen Stuff prepares floral arrangements Friday afternoon in Rock Falls. Behren’s Valentine’s Day rush was not totally affected with the water shut-off in Rock Falls Thursday evening and Friday morning. Behren’s had most of their vases pre-filled with water and flowers in cool spot to keep them fresh.
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Sally Behren of Behren's Blumen Stuff prepares floral arrangements Friday afternoon in Rock Falls.
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Jim Helle of Folsom's Bakery in Rock Falls begins to fill the display cases with baked goods Friday morning.
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Ellie Whalen, 5, and her father, Scott, were among the first customers in Folsom's Bakery in Rock Falls Friday morning. The two were in just minutes after the bakery opened.
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Jim Helle of Folsom's Bakery in Rock Falls speaks with the Whiteside County Health Department Friday morning. Jim opened for business after the phone call.

ROCK FALLS – When the Rock Falls Days Inn got word about city water being shut off, manager Bob Fauble knew he had to prepare.

He bought 10 cases of water for staffers to hand out to guests. They brought in two port-a-potties, placing one in the front and one in the back.

Of the 10 cases of water, Sandy Gonzalez, a front-desk worker, estimated employees had handed out six or seven cases total.

They had to close their restaurant, the American Bar and Grill, but Fauble was ready for it to open again Friday night. He bought more water as well as canned sodas for the clientele.

Two guests at the Days Inn, Todd and Jennifer Ennells, left Thursday afternoon to buy water as soon as they got word about the shutoff. They completely bypassed the Walmart because it was so packed, they said, and went to Sterling's Kroger instead.

But by the time they got there, the store was practically out of water, and people were fighting over the remaining gallon jugs and cases.

"All the carts were taken," Jennifer said.

The Ennells bought two cases of water and 8-gallon jugs.

Jim Helle, owner of Folsom's Bakery, found out he was out of water at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, and as soon as that happened, he started making calls.

"They said it was a major issue," he said. "That's all they would say."

He quickly ran some numbers to figure it out, exactly how much he would need to keep him in business for 2 days, and then went straight to Walmart.

"I knew what I needed," he said. "I thought, well, I have to at least take care of my orders, and then I started looking around and putting other plans together."

Helle estimates he spent more than a few hundred dollars to buy water.

"I was pretty nervous," he said. "I didn't sleep at all last night, just trying to figure out, you know, OK, well, what's plan A, plan B, plan C? Valentine's Day is one of our biggest days. You know, you're thinking, 'How do you handle it?' Because that's huge sales gone for any business."

Helle's Rock Falls bakery is responsible for all the product for the Dixon store as well as his, not to mention the deliveries he makes every morning to businesses in at least five surrounding counties.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," he said.

When he got the call from the Whiteside County Health Department just before 9 a.m. Friday saying that he could open, he breathed a sigh of relief.

"I was hoping the whole time for the best," he said. "As soon as they gave me the OK, I stuck the 'Open' flag out and said, 'OK, let's start making money.'

"We open at 5 every morning," he said. "This is the first time ever this bakery's not been open at 5."

Water was turned on at 8:30 Friday morning, with the city saying all residents should have full usage by 9:30 a.m.

Rock Falls is under a boil order until Sunday.

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