LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - Just one week ago, Shelby Park looked more like a lake than a neighborhood after one of the city's biggest and oldest pipes burst. In the days since, Louisville Water has worked around the clock to clean up the mess and get things back to normal.
The company said the new pipes are installed and should be running by the end of the week. Full restoration of the neighborhood like sidewalk and road repairs may need to continue after the holidays. There are a lot of unsung heroes behind these efforts, and that includes Joe Lueke. He's worked for Louisville Water for 22 years and belongs to the Emergency Turner department.
"There's 14 of us, and we work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There's always someone on the street,” Lueke said.
Last Tuesday, six of them got the test of a lifetime.
"It was a pretty crazy day. Everybody wanting to get into it, everybody wanting to get away from it, everybody wanting to see it, and it was just pretty chaotic,” Lueke said. "It was just a river in the middle of the city. You just can't flip a switch. If it was that easy, none of us would be here. “I just wish people would understand that. A lot of people get mad at us and holler and scream and cuss and say turn it off, turn it off, and they just don’t understand what it takes and the amount of time it takes to turn this off.”
Lueke and his team worked for hours to get the water turned off.
"It was 62 gates altogether to turn this main off,” Lueke said.
Each one took a few hundred spins and about 1,500 pounds of pressure to seal shut.
"You're trying to go fast, but at the same time, you're trying to be safe, and you've got to watch the traffic with people blowing their horns at you and people hollering to get out of the road, and people hollering to turn the water off,” Lueke said.
Rest assured, that frustration was mutual, but the commitment to stopping it stayed strong.
"It's just what we do. Some days are better than others,” Lueke said.
Safe to say, that day will be one they won't soon forget, but one they also hope to not have again.
"They'll wear you out for sure,” Lueke said.
Lueke wanted to make sure his entire team that day got credit. So, here’s a special shout out to Charlie Switzer, Willie Wesley, Nik Wohlleb, Brent Metcalf, Adam Carter, and Beau Newton.
If you had any damage to your house or car, Louisville Water recommends you reach out to your insurance first for a faster response and then call the company if you need additional help.