• Boil-water advisory lifted for Banner Elk residents


    BANNER ELK, N.C. - A boil water advisory for residents in Banner Elk was lifted Saturday morning after officials told Channel 9 that the rupture of a large water main disrupted water service to most of the Avery County town.

    Officials said that as of 11 a.m. Saturday, test results were good and there was no sign of bacterial growth in the town's water. Chlorine residuals were also back to normal levels, officials said.

    The 8-inch water main break happened around 3 a.m. Friday and affected roughly 650 customers, including Lees-McRae College.

    Banner Elk Elementary School was closed Friday because of the water main break.

    Crews were facing challenges because of heavy rain. They had to use a truck to pump water out of the hole where they found the break.

    A nearby creek rose so quickly it flooded the hole, making it difficult to reach the damaged line.

    "We were already under voluntary water conservation because we had some leaks related to the hard freeze we had last week,” Town Manager Rick Owen said. “And so we had been looking for leaks, and this is potentially what we had been looking for, and just now got big enough to find."

    Classes were canceled at Lees McRae as officials brought bottled water to the students.

    Just down the street, restaurants scrambled to stay open as the boil-water advisory went into effect early in the morning.

    "We are currently on a boiling level. We have soft drinks and 2-liter bottled water,” said Les Broussard of Banner Elk Cafe. “We are using paper, serving on paper, until they decide we can use a dishwasher."

    But, with the warmer temperatures Friday, it was kayaking that brought people to the Watauga River, which was high after two days of rain.

    "Look at those guys. That's crazy,” kayaker Mac McGee said. “But the more that I paddled and spent time with my friends, the more I learned it's something to love."

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