National Rural Water Association

2915 S. 13th Street

Duncan, OK 73533

580-252-0629   FAX 580-255-4476

Contact:  Chris Wilson,

June 9, 2008
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Rural water technicians restoring water to tornado-ravaged town 


PARKERSBURG, Iowa – A lone water tower stands untouched amid the ruin of a northeast Iowa town, a strange reminder that while water infrastructure was largely untouched but recent storms, a great deal remains to be done. The EF5 tornado that ravaged towns like Parkesrburg, New Hartford and Dunkerton on May 25 left the water utilities of these communities largely untouched.
            “As far as infrastructure is concerned, there was minimal damage,” said Gary Brons, a Training Specialist with the Iowa Rural Water Association.
            Brons said that the towns were put on a boil-water notice, but that was largely a precaution.
            “They’ve valved-off the damaged areas of town, so there we little interruption in their services.”
            The IRWA had offered additional assistance to the communities, but their efforts at the time were focused on clean-up of the structural damage. The tornado was responsible for seven deaths, 70 injuries and over 400 damaged homes.
            “We’ve met with the city officials, city managers, to let them know that our services are available when they need us,” Brons explained.
            Scott Barrett, the operator of the Parkersburg water utility, called shortly after to ask for assistance. Brons and the IRWA’s two circuit riders, or roving assistance specialist, Dale Barrie
and Jennifer Schwoob were in the city June 4 to provide assistance.
            “We had excavators digging up basements and debris that would tear out some of the piping,” Barrett explained. “Water was spraying everywhere.”
            The IRWA staff spent the day locating and shutting off curb stops, a connection that links the water supply in a home to the water main running down the street.
            “We certainly didn’t any of the machinery pulling mains out of the ground,” Brons said.
            The group located about 40 of the curb stops, but was only able to disconnect a few because of heaped rubble and debris. Brons said that several connections were buried by as much as 15 or 20 feet of piled rubble.
            “We’ll have to use a backhoe to get to the rest,” Barrett said.
             The curb stops were only part of the larger effort to keep the town supplied with clean water.
            “We’re definably heading back,” Brons said, “as many times as they need us.”
            “The really gave a big help today,” Barrett said.

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