Health Department shuts down St. Marys restuarants
April 28--ST. MARYS -- Coastal Georgia Health District officials have closed every restaurant in the city's downtown historic district until Sunday afternoon.
The closures were ordered after a 12-inch water main break Friday morning that affected every home and business in the city's downtown historic district, a densely populated area encompassing more than 30 square blocks.
A boil water advisory has been issued for the entire historic district until noon Sunday.
The advisory was issued after the water main break caused water pressure to drop to dangerously low levels. The concern was backflow and/or back siphonage of water of unknown quality could have entered the system because the pressure was so low.
The advisory is for residents living in the area from Dilworth Street east to Norris Street and from North Street by the paper mill to St. Marys Street on the waterfront.
The advisory calls for water to be boiled for pretty much everything except showering, laundry and watering the lawn. The water should be boiled for at least one minute after reaching a rolling boil, according to the advisory.
That includes boiling water for washing dishes, brushing teeth, cooking and preparing baby food. Water should also be boiled for pets.
Isabelle Liapis, owner of the Riverside Cafe in downtown St. Marys, said she planned to close her restaurant Friday afternoon until the advisory is lifted noon Sunday as a precaution, even though it's the busiest time of the year for tourism and her business.
Liapis made the decision before health department officials asked restaurants in the affected area to close until the advisory is lifted.
"I don't want to take a risk for nobody," she said.
Gaila Brandon, owner of the Riverview Hotel, located on the waterfront less than a block away, initially said she planned to stay open but will use lots of bottled water.
"It's going to be hard in the restaurant," she said. "We'll have to use lots of purified water."
Later in the day, however, health officials said they planned to deliver in person a written notification to close.
Alise Pate, a senior administrator with the St. Marys Public Works Department, said workers were expected to complete repairs to the damaged line Friday afternoon.
Once the advisory is lifted Sunday, Pate recommended residents run the water 10 to 15 minutes to allow the lines to flush.