This story was originally published by The Daily Mining Gazette.
For more than 10 days now, several residents of Cole’s Creek Road have had no running water in their homes.
“Still in the same boat, no water,” said Sheila Peltier, a 30-year resident on the road.
She and her husband have been hauling refillable jugs of water from her mother-in-law’s house in Ripley so they can continue living in their own home. Large blue jugs with spigots on them rest at the sinks in the bathroom and kitchen. This allows them to do basic things like washing dishes, brushing teeth, and cleaning hands. A smaller, gallon-size jug is used to fill the toilet so it can be flushed. Showers and laundry have to be done elsewhere. The Peltiers and other Cole’s Creek residents say they’ve tried not to put too much burden on any one person by rotating where they shower.
Outside help with their situation has been sparse.
Earlier in the week, Evangel Community Church brought drinking water which has been shared among the residents.
“They were kind enough to gather together and they dropped off 30 cases of bottled water the other day,” Peltier said.
The Western Upper Peninsula Health Department has also rushed the permits for well-digging the residents needed, which Peltier was grateful for.
However, having a permit does not get the well dug. Companies equipped to dig wells for the residents have told Peltier it will be two to four weeks before they can get to her house, and it will be weeks more before the well is complete and usable.
“We’ll still be at least 6 weeks minimum for water,” Peltier said.
Peltier works in the travel business, and has begun to go back to work after being laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While she isn’t worried yet, she doesn’t know what her and her husband would do if they were told they needed to quarantine or isolate themselves.
“It’s hard not having water as it is,” she said.
Caring for her animals has also been tough. Peltier’s cat was used to drinking from the running kitchen faucet and has not adjusted.
“He is so mad at me, because he jumps up on the counter and asks ‘Where’s my water?’” she said.
During Monday’s Houghton County Road Commission meeting, Cole’s Creek Road resident Chris Woodry and his father Bruce again voiced their complaints to the HCRC board and Engineer Kevin Harju. The board and Harju declined to reply directly because they said Woodrys had retained legal representation and threatened litigation. By HCRC policy, communication between the parties has to be through their respective attorneys.
“There was virtually no discussion on Cole’s Creek,” Bruce said.
The Woodry’s said they had consulted a lawyer who had contacted the HCRC, but was no longer represented, and had not initiated any litigation. The HCRC received confirmation that the lawyer didn’t represent the Woodrys after the meeting.
The Cole’s Creek Road repairs are almost completed, according to Harju.
Before paving began, Woodry was able to get a conduit dug, 6 feet below the road, to be able to run a water line. The permit for the work was issued by the road commission, and Woodry hired a private contractor to do the work.
“We wanted him to be able to put in the conduit prior to us paving,” Harju said.
Once the road is complete, Woodry may have been required to bore under the road rather than dig an open cut.
While there is no water line to connect to, Woodry said he might be able to pull water from the creek across the street to flush toilets for a few weeks until he gets a well finished.