DUNCAN, Okla. –Responders from Louisiana Rural Water Association rush to build a berm of earth and plastic to protect a community’s wells from rising floodwater. It is only one example of Rural Water Associations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas working to protect and restore water service for communities threatened by recent floods.
The flooding began after a slow-moving storm system dumped more than two feet of rain on the region. The huge influx of water caused numerous rivers to reach record heights, leaving nearly 6,000 homes damaged and five reported dead.
“I wish this 100-year flood would have waited another 100 years: It is total devastation for these small rural communities,” said LRWA Executive Director Patrick Credeur.
With rain totals rising, Rural Water immediately began contacting utilities to assess their situation. Response managers sorted systems experiencing flood damage or service interruptions according to severity and dispatched staff and equipment to provide assistance. In just two days, association staff in three states contacted over 100 systems.
The assistance provided by Rural Water ranged from planning flood response to supporting complicated repairs.
“Three water distribution systems had water mains blown out at creek crossings,” explained Mississippi Rural Water Association Executive Director Kirby Mayfield. “Those breaks were repaired with only minor disruptions in service.”
Mississippi Rural Water assisted in isolating and repairing water mains for the Lexie Water Association and McGee’s Creek Water Association in Tylertown and the M and M Water Association in Laurel. In Louisiana, Rural Water assisted the Town of Blanchard and the Hebert Water System by constructing berms. They assisted other communities by detecting leaks, repairing damaged water lines or decontaminating flooded water wells.
In many cases, though, all they could do was assist the utility in planning for their recovery once the flood waters recede, because the system is completely underwater and the entire community has been evacuated.
“The people in Louisiana continue to fight flood waters,” Credeur said. “Many have been displaced and will not be allowed into their homes for many days to come and possibly weeks.”