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More Than 3,700 Texans Are Without Safe Drinking Water Three Months After Harvey


Five stories that have North Texas talking: Restoring water to Harvey-affected areas ; racist flyers were hung around SMU again; details about baby born from mother with uterus transplant; and more.

Three months after Hurricane Harvey, thousands of Texans are still without safe drinking water.

More than a dozen boil-water notices remain in affected areas, including cities, mobile home parks and housing developments in seven counties across southeast Texas, the Beaumont Enterprise reported.

The seven counties include: Angelina, Harris, Jim Wells, Liberty, Matagorda, Newton and Orange.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports more than 3,700 people in those areas haven't had clean drinking water since late August.

In Rose City, the boil notice hasn't been lifted because the plan hasn't met TCEQ standards for pH levels and other chemicals, said Janice Ratcliff, the city's water operator. Running water returned to the city's 600 residents in September, but it still requires a two-minute rolling boil before safe consumption.

"It's been so touch-and-go," Ratcliff said. "It will run good for two weeks but then something will happen. It just makes no sense to remove the notice just to have to go right back on it."

Ratcliff said the city's original goal was to have the boil-water notice rescinded by Thanksgiving. But issues with insurance have pushed back installing the necessary equipment.

"It's crazy what they put us through," Ratcliff said. "It's just been delay after delay. We understand that insurance companies and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) were so overloaded, but a water facility should come first."

Mayor Bonnie Stephenson said that faith-based organizations have been working to provide Rose City with enough bottled water.

"We've barely had any complaints from residents," Stephenson said of the rebuilding process. "They know that they're working as hard as they can to fix it. Nobody has gotten real mad yet."

More than 2,200 community water systems across 58 counties were compromised by the storm. Two facilities in Harris County were deemed inoperable or destroyed. Keep track of current conditions of Harvey-affected areas with the latest reports from the commission.

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  • Texas Vanguard: White supremacists hung racist and discriminatory flyers and banners around SMU over the weekend. Five persons of interest were caught on surveillance video, and now the university is asking for the public’s help in identifying them. [KERA News]

  • Misconduct in Congress: U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, says he’ll repay the $84,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. Lauren Greene, his former spokeswoman, sued him in 2014. [The Texas Tribune]

  • Medical breakthrough: Baylor doctors delivered the first baby born in the U.S. to a mother who received a uterus transplant. Doctors said it took over a year to determine if it would be possible for the woman participating in the clinical trial. [The Associated Press]

  • Blowback: An investigation has found that 21 of Texas’ 50 largest law enforcement agencies sell their used weapons to the public, “effectively creating a pipeline of guns flowing right back into communities.” [Texas Standard, Reveal]

The High Five is KERA’s daily roundup of stories from Dallas-Fort Worth and across the state. Explore our archives here. And sign up for our weekly email for the North Texas news you need to know.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.