By Aqua Texas President and Houston resident Bob Laughman
As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc throughout southeast Texas with catastrophic flooding, Aqua employees worked long hours in challenging conditions to maintain and restore service to our customers.
Aqua serves about 76,000 people through 146 water systems throughout southeast Texas. Although we had standby generators ready to deploy after the hurricane hit, many systems remained powered and in full operation during Harvey. However, devastating flood conditions impeded employees from safely traveling to some communities to determine if water quality had been compromised by the storm. We issued a precautionary boil advisory to 121 systems and lifted these advisories as our operators confirmed the safety of each system’s water.
Area Manager Chris Garcia and his team delivered extraordinary service as they personally dealt with the horrendous flooding you saw on TV. They truly exemplify Aqua’s mission and core values, and I thank them for their commitment to the communities we serve.
Aqua employees Gary Douglas and Scott Verret distributing water in Beaumont.
As my employees worked tirelessly to restore service for our own customers in southeast Texas, they also reached out to help other communities who needed it. The City of Beaumont lost its water supply for nearly 120,000 people as a result of the storm. On September 1 — after driving more than 500 miles from our Fort Worth and Palestine offices through Louisiana and along coastal roads to avoid flooded areas — Aqua employees Gary Douglas, Scott Verret, J.Don Dewveall, Tim Goforth, Ben Clark and Nathan Sweeney arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers. The crew provided bulk clean water to a mobile hospital unit, three churches, local residents and a ship — the Liberty Peace — that could not leave the harbor without clean drinking water. Our tankers also provided an invaluable clean water supply to the Jefferson County emergency operations center, the main center that coordinated regional disaster rescue and response.
Aqua delivered water to various locations including a court house and mobile hospital unit.
Mike Kirkpatrick, Jefferson County emergency management coordinator, conveyed his and the community’s deep appreciation for everything that Aqua Texas did on their behalf. Kirkpatrick said Aqua Texas was the reason the emergency operations center was able to stay open during the worst of the crisis.
I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to my co-workers throughout Texas and our Aqua America family nationwide for their inspiring teamwork and extraordinary efforts to serve our customers throughout the hurricane and its aftermath.
Nathan Sweeney and Ben Clark were among the Aqua employees who arrived in Beaumont with two drinking water tankers.