National Rural Water Association

2915 S. 13th Street

Duncan, OK 73533

580-252-0629   FAX 580-255-4476

Contact:  Chris Wilson, nrwacw@nrwa.org

August 29, 2008
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Rural Water Associations prepare for Gustav 

 

       State rural water associations from Florida to Arkansas are preparing their personnel, equipment and resources for water emergencies as Hurricane Gustav approaches the gulf coast. The military-style preparations are being made in states in the path of the storm, like Texas and Louisiana, and their neighboring states.
      “Our Emergency Response Trailer is hitched and ready to go when needed,” said Dennis Sternberg from the Arkansas Rural Water Association. “These networks, trailers and equipment are designed to go into action starting in the impacted state and branching out to neighboring states and beyond.”
        Several states formed Water Agency Response Networks following Hurricane Rita in 2005. These WARN systems coordinate the resources of Rural Water Associations, state agencies and other organizations to return clean drinking water to impacted communities as quickly as possible. Equipment including portable generators, pumps, and trailers filled with water testing, treatment and training equipment is being prepared to move into impacted areas on short notice.
     “This is really no different then what we do every day, it is just technical assistance but with more urgency and more immediate need,” said Gary Williams, Executive Director of the Florida Rural Water Association. In June, the FRWA provided three days of intensive emergency response training to field staff from all of the 48 states, Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.
       Rural water organizations increased their levels of training, coordination and mutual support after responding to Midwest flooding in the 1990’s. The networks have grown as rural water organizations dealt with disasters like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, tornados in Picher, Okla. and Parkersburg, Iowa, and recent Midwest floods. The growing levels of cooperation and support were formalized in WARN agreements after the devastating 2005 hurricane season.
      “We are prepared as we can be,” said Kathy Horne, Executive Director of the Alabama Rural Water Association and Chair of the National Rural Water Emergency Response Committee. “We have the experience and have conducted mock regional drills, we know what to expect and how to respond. We just hope and pray we are not needed.”
       As of Friday, Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. estimated Gustav, only a tropical storm after drenching Jamaica, would return to hurricane strength before making landfall in Louisiana.

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