Out Here: Have fun, but no water

Talk about an unfortunate juxtaposition.

I looked at the city of Rock Falls' website about 5 o'clock this morning, and on the top of the page, in large lettering, it touted its designation as a "Reliable Public Power Provider City."

As it happens, officials believe a power outage began a series of events that resulted in the shutoff of its water system.

Below the designation, the city announced it had "suffered a failure" of its sewer system, so it had to cut off its water supply.

It then lists places where portable restrooms and water were available.

It concluded with a sentence in red lettering: "Please DO NOT use water to flush your toilet or put any liquids down the sewer system at this time."

Then a thin line. And the very next sentence: "We want you to enjoy yourself, whether you are a resident, are here to visit or are considering Rock Falls for your new home!"

In other words, have fun, but when nature calls, don't you think of using that toilet.

Perhaps irony will keep people's minds off a waterless town.

To be sure, city employees were much too busy to pay attention to the positioning of the notice on its website.

So far, it seems as if the city has acted responsibly in dealing with the problem.

Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Thursday, my fellow reporter, Pam Eggemeier, got a call from the city about the coming outage.

She was told it would happen in 5 minutes. The entire city? Yes.

We sent out a text alert within a couple of minutes. Pam went to City Hall, while I visited businesses.

On First Street, one restaurant owner said he'd been out of water for about 20 minutes. Another a few doors down didn't know what I was asking about. He said there had been a power outage earlier, but that was it.

Photographer Phil Marruffo and I went to another place and then returned to the restaurant that had water.

"You jinxed me," the man told me.

He had lost his water. He'd probably been getting his supply from his water heater, then it ran out.

This outage will affect people in many ways. And we'll be out there reporting.

David Giuliani is a news editor for Sauk Valley Media. You can reach him at dgiuliani@saukvalley.com or 800-798-4085, ext. 525. Follow him on Twitter: @DGiuliani_SVM.