This story was updated Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, at 5:43 p.m. with more information.

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Water outage probe


* 500,000: Bottles of water distributed

* 20,833: Cases of water given out

* 386: Pallets of water provided

Source: Hamilton County Office of Emergency Management

Tennessee American Water Co. officials said Monday they'll begin a full probe of how a water main broke late last week, affecting 35,000 customers and leaving some with little or no water for days.

"It will take time to go through," said Kevin Kruchinski, the company's director of operations, adding that he didn't have a time frame.

Kruchinski said there was "no obvious cause" for the water main break late last Thursday.

Also, a precautionary notice for water company customers to boil their water has been lifted for all the utility's service areas, Tennessee American said Monday afternoon.

"All customers have now been lifted from boil water advisory. The final set of customers are being notified via our CodeRed customer notification of the lift," said Daphne Kirksey with Tennessee American in a statement.

Meanwhile, Mayor Andy Berke has informed Tennessee American leaders that "he wants to have a debrief of what caused the break and what kind of impact it had on our community" even though the city has no direct regulatory power over the company, said spokeswoman Richel Albright.

She said that no date has been set yet for such a briefing on the water outage, which the city says is the most widespread and prolonged that veterans at City Hall can remember.

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The final map from Tennessee American Water Co. on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, shows the boil advisory has been lifted for all customers in the service area. Map contributed by Tennessee American Water.

Many downtown restaurants and businesses closed Friday, and central city hotels scrambled to keep and service patrons. A number of restaurants began reopening this weekend.

Kim White, who heads the nonprofit downtown redevelopment group River City Co., said that the outage had "a tremendous impact on the city."

"I've never seen anything like it," she said.

Darlene Williams, Tennessee American's president, on Monday acknowledged the efforts of the community during the outage and the work to return to normal service.

She thanked the utility's customers for their "patience and support" over the past five days.

Kruchinski said there were still instances of air in water company lines, and its crews were continuing to work to get rid of that problem. He added that there are other similar-size lines like the 36-inch line that broke last week within the company's water system.

"We'll do a full review and make changes as needed," Kruchinski said during a short news briefing.

On Monday, Lookout Valley businesses had been continuing to grapple with the impact of last Thursday night's outage. The break in the water main affected some 35,000 customers across the Chattanooga area who had little to no water service for anywhere from 36 to 70 hours.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Tennessee American Water President Darlene Williams is seen during a press conference at the Hamilton County Emergency Communications Center on Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Lee Harriod of the Hardee's restaurant on Browns Ferry Road said early Monday afternoon that only the drive-through window was open and the dining room was closed.

"We're still not back to normal," he said, citing the water boil advisory.

Harriod said the restaurant closed Friday and was shut down all weekend. It opened the drive-through Monday morning, but he was hopeful the restaurant would reopen fully Tuesday.

Vio Little of the Tennessee RiverPlace event venue on Scenic Waters Lane said water was out during the weekend and, fortunately, nothing was scheduled.

"We didn't have water for one-and-a-half days," she said. But, when water was restored, air in a pipe caused it to burst, Little said. "We lost water because of that. Our staff is repairing that today."

At the Clarion Inn in Lookout Valley, Janeel Brown said business was hurt Friday and Saturday, through the inn reopened Sunday and was operating normally on Monday.

"We had people who were staying for three days [then] only stayed for one," she said.

White said that business people are resilient.

On Monday, business was back to normal at the Panera restaurant on Market Street downtown, said Kayla Crafton.

While the restaurant closed Friday, it reopened Saturday even though it wasn't immediately able to provide teas and coffees, she said. But those beverages were back on the menu on Monday, Crafton said.

(Read more: Chattanooga mostly recovered from water break; neighbors pitch in to help those without)

Contact Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.