SHUQUALAK, Miss. – “Let me get my boots on, I’ll be right there,” Tom Abernathy said when the Shuqualak Butler Water Association called him on the Saturday a flood destroyed one of their water lines.
“We had a seven-inch rain and the flood that came washed out a creek crossing,” said Tom Hindman, the Shuqualak Butler Water Operations Specialist. “It left about 200 homes without water.”
Shuqualak Butler has an emergency connection with a neighboring water utility, but the same flood damaged part of their distribution system and could not supply enough emergency water. The damaged main was leaking over 200 gallons per minute. Hindman thought the break was in the creek, but needed assistance locating it. That’s when he contacted Abernathy for assistance.
“It was a Saturday and I was on vacation, but I told him I’d be there in a couple of hours,” Abernathy said. He is a Circuit Rider with the Mississippi Rural Water Association.
Circuit Riders are roving water professionals that provide technical assistance to water systems. Abernathy has over 30 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry, including 20 managing the utility operations of a small community.
When Abernathy was on-site, he began working to locate the leak.
“We found the leak, but the water was still to high,” Hindman said.
Abernathy devised a plan to install valves that would allow Shuqualak Butler to isolate the leak and restore service to some of the impacted homes.
“Tom stayed late into the night helping us,” Hindman said. “We were able to put in some valves and run some crossovers to get water back to our customers.”
Abernathy returned the next day to help locate and repair the leak.
“Tom was really a lot of assistance,” Hindman said. “We’ve worked with Mississippi Rural Water before and that’s just the way they are.”