When Texas was hit with unprecedented weather, the Aqua family stepped up in a big way! Hear from Aqua employees Andy Price, Kyle Denault and Patrick Wren, all of whom led teams of employees from Illinois to Texas during the crisis to assist those in need.
From the Desk of Andy Price, Area Manager – Illinois
Greetings from Texas!
I wanted to take a moment to update you all on all the tremendous work our Aqua Illinois team has done to help Aqua Texas. As I’m sure you are all aware Tim Reed, Noel Dean, Lorin Kinney and I left Danville, Illinois on Feb. 18 to help aid Texas after a historic weather event.
Our team, along with others from the central and northern divisions, arrived late Saturday night and hit the ground running Sunday morning. Apart from the unprecedented weather, we were also faced with the challenge of a shortage of fuel and food. After several failed attempts, we were able to find both, despite the melting and refreezing of snow that made driving extremely dangerous. SAFETY FIRST!
Our first stop was north of San Antonio in the Wimberly office. With supplies and inventory in tow, we met with Brent Reeh and Brian Robinson to receive our marching orders. Customers in this area had been without water and/or on a boil order for several days. Tim, Noel, and I spent most of the next few days searching and repairing small and large customer leaks. I was told by Field Supervisor Brian Robinson that one of the leaks Tim and Noel identified was the difference between losing the system and keeping them in water.
Brian later texted me “I sincerely appreciate your help, I know you and your crew weren't out there fixing leaks like you thought you were going to be doing but what you did do freed our people up to focus on individual customer calls and everything else. What the canyon crew found was the difference between us staying in water and running out. You all were a huge help at a critical time. It was great to meet each of you as well. I'm sure will end up on a conference call or meeting together in the future. Good to be able to make the connection. "Hey, I know that guy. Thanks again.”
Next, Lorin and I spent the next few days delivering water to several towns in the Austin region of the service territory and helping replace PVC pipes. By doing this, we were able to get wastewater plants back up and running.
As our time here continued, we were able to witness the work we had been putting in was paying off. Water was getting turned back on, boil orders were being lifted, and pumpage was coming back to normal. All our work was making a difference, and it was a truly fulfilling feeling.
Over the following days, all our assisting Illinois crews moved on to their next assignments, while Tim and Noel continued more of the same work in new areas. Lorin and I met with Field Supervisor Nola Ferris, and spent some time learning about the issues at hand in the Granbury TX divisions. Lorin worked alongside a local operator visiting wellsite’s and fixing leaks, while I worked with Nola with water loss issues in their divisions.
Morale was high, and we are enjoying the opportunity to assist where we can. The people in the areas we assisted could not have been more gracious for our help.
As we learned that we would be released from our duties, we prepared for our 14-hour journey back up to Illinois. We hope you all will continue to keep our brothers and sisters down in Texas in your thoughts as they continue to navigate this historic weather event.
Special thanks also go out to Kyle Denault, Brent Smith, Lucas Yoakum, Nick Ippolito, Pat Wren and Mario Ingoglia, who also traveled to Texas and helped with the restoration efforts.
Aqua Illinois East Central Division: Lorin Kinney, Tim Reed, Andy Price and Noel Dean
From the Desk of Patrick Wren, Field Supervisor – Illinois
I wanted to take a moment to highlight all the tremendous work Aqua Illinois employees did during their time helping the Texas Ice Storm.
I arrived late Friday night, slept off the long drive, and we were off spreading out all throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth footprint helping wherever we could.
I spent the entirety of Saturday working in one single system trying to restore water service to customers without internal plumbing leaks. Through various attempts and movements within the system, we were able to restore 75% of the customers in the system. I continued the same work in more systems throughout the weekend, helping wherever I could to restore our customers’ water systems.
Monday was the most rewarding day of the trip; through our efforts we were able to restore two complete systems. Along with that, I was able to assist our Aqua Texas customers in filling gallons of water at our water trucks. Even after eight days of no water, our customers were all a pleasure to speak with and were extremely grateful thankful for all our hard work. One customer even noticed my Illinois plates and profusely thanked me for coming so far to help.
I continued more of the same work throughout the remainder of my time in Texas. Turning on water systems one at a time and helping our Aqua customers in any way they need. I cannot reiterate enough how much of a pleasure it was to interact with our customers.
As I reflect on my time in Texas, I often think about how great the Aqua customers were. I never heard a single complaint and they were so thankful for the work we were doing. I’ve heard of the popular saying “Everything is bigger in Texas” and I can confidently say that is true for the people’s compassion and understanding.
Special thanks also go out to Mario Ingoglia, who traveled down to Texas to assist in the Texas Ice Storm.
Aqua Illinois Northern Division: Mario Ingoglia and Pat Wren (photo taken prior to Covid-19.)
From the desk of Kyle Denault, Distribution Technician – Illinois
As soon as I heard of the storm in Texas, I immediately felt the urge to help. With suitcases, work boots, and a sense of urgency, my team and I abruptly headed south.
After a roughly 18-hour drive we arrived in Texas, although, we did have to do a double take with all the snow on the ground when we arrived. After a short sleep in our hotel, we geared up and headed toward the northern Houston suburb of Spring to get started in the recovery.
Right away on Sunday morning we were able to assist, repairing many exposed plumbing structures and frozen meters. My team and I continued more of this work throughout our reminder of my time in Texas, traveling throughout systems while distributing bottled water to our customers. Meeting our customers and assisting them in any way possible was extremely rewarding, I never heard a complaint once and they were all extremely thankful for all the help we were providing.
As I was dismissed from my time in Texas, I headed back to Illinois and powered through the entire drive. I knew I was home when my truck’s thermometer said 25 degrees.
Special thanks also go out to Brent Smith, Lucas Yoakum and Nick Ippolito who also traveled down to Texas to assist in the storm as well.
Aqua Illinois Central Division: Nick Ippolito, Lucas Yoakum, Kyle Denault and Brent Smith
A special thanks goes out to all of our Texas employees who responded to the crisis, your efforts are not unnoticed and we are extremely thankful for all of your hard work.