Emmonak’s damaged sewer system, which left hundreds without service this week, has been jump-started, according to a story published by KYUK Public Media.

On Thursday night, a team from the Yukon Kuskokwim Heath Corporation (YKHC) and the State of Alaska’s Remote Maintenance Worker (RMW) Program managed to begin restoring the utility service.

YKHC director of environmental health and engineering Brian Lefferts directed the effort, and said RMW saved the day.

“We often joke that it stands for ‘real miracle worker,'” Lefferts said.

Lefferts said that they got the system running again Thursday night after patching it together with help from local workers in Emmonak. The village can, after a week, drain its many full tubs and toilets.

Though the fix of the pump is only a temporary one until contractors can install new ones, Lefferts said that this means schools and the village’s health clinic will be able to reopen. The pump will remain under 24-hour watch to make sure it doesn’t overheat and cause another fire.

“Keep in mind we got this old pump with cobbled-together parts that we have to keep a 24-hour watch on,” Lefferts. “It could potentially fail again.”

The pump is now doing twice the work that the burned pump was doing when it caught fire, but Lefferts said they’re turning the pump off every few hours when it begins to overheat. For now, Lefferts said “a catastrophe has been avoided.”

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