AMBOY – The Beef Hut has been without running water for nearly 4 weeks, a situation blamed on a frozen city line.
As a result, the carryout restaurant has trucked in water to stay open. But co-owner Sam Taormina says word has gotten out about The Beef Hut's situation, which has hurt business.
"This has affected us immensely. I have lost money," he said. "I don't know whether people will come back. You do so much work to get people in your door."
He said a neighbor has allowed him to wash his hands and use the bathroom.
The city reports that six residents have been affected by frozen lines this winter. Now, it's down to two.
The mayor takes exception to reports that he has told people without water that they would have to wait until the spring thaw to get water service restored. He said he has never said that.
"We've done everything we can for these people," Nauman said. "This is Mother Nature. It is unprecedented. I thank God there were only six affected."
Other towns have also had residents with frozen lines. In Amboy, as is the case elsewhere, the municipality is in charge of the line from the curb to the main, while residents are responsible from the water box to the home.
While the city has identified its lines as being frozen, Nauman said, no one knows where the problems started.
"How do we know if it wasn't frozen on their side and that it caused our side to be frozen?" he asked.
Taormina is among those who said he was told by the mayor that he would have to wait until the spring thaw. The restaurateur said he couldn't wait that long, because he would go out of business.
He said the city told him that the frozen line was his problem, but nearly 2 weeks ago, a plumber indicated it was on the city's side.
Michael Therriault, who lives in the 700 block of East Main Street, was without water for 3 weeks. Then, the city hooked him up temporarily to his neighbor's line.
Therriault said he at first got a similar story from the city – that the problem was on his side of the line – only to discover later it was in the city's portion. Before learning that, though, he spent $2,000 trying to thaw out his line and then installing a new one because the city told him it was his problem. He now expects to be compensated.
"I hope the city will step up to say it screwed up and do what it takes to make it right," Therriault said. "They dropped the ball."
The mayor, however, said Therriault shouldn't expect compensation.
"Who in their right mind would put in a water line when it's 30 degrees below zero?" he said.
Nauman said the city had put out repeated warnings that residents and businesses keep a small stream of water flowing on really cold days to prevent lines from freezing up. In every instance, those with frozen lines did not, he said.
"It's mind-boggling why they didn't," he said Thursday morning. "We're working through this. Our maintenance crews are working as hard as they can to try to get water to these people. Hopefully, everyone will be fine by the end of today."