Ready to help neighbors following Hurricane Florence

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 10:47:00 AM

Christian Arvizu-Garcia (L) and Harrison Ray (R) were the first of many OWASA employees to volunteer to support hurricane recovery. They've prepped OWASA's Vac-Truck so it's ready to deploy.

OWASA received an alert yesterday from NCWaterWARN (a network of utilities that supports each other in times of disaster) that a town in a neighboring County might need assistance following Hurricane Florence. Some of their wastewater pump stations were at risk of over flowing: Did anyone have a Vac-Truck and a few good people they could send to help? OWASA immediately responded to the call. Christian Arvizu-Garcia and Harrison Ray were the first among many OWASA employees to volunteer to provide support. They got OWASA’s Vac-Truck ready and remained on standby. 

What is a Vac-Truck?

Think of a giant vacuum cleaner, but bigger than any you’ve seen before. It’s the size of a truck, and it can vacuum up to 3,000 gallons of liquid in one go. “With the Vac-Truck, we can vacuum up excess wastewater and take it to the plant where it can be treated safely. This is important because we don’t want wastewater to overflow into a street or stream or lake. We want to protect our community's drinking water sources,” said Christian.

When asked what motivated him to volunteer, Harrison said: “I’ve never worked in a flood response before, but I really want to help. It’s always good to help others. If we were in need of help, I hope others would help us too.”

In the end, the neighboring town scaled down their alert as their team was able to manage the potential overflow. But OWASA remains ready to provide support to neighbors as needed. Our thoughts remain with communities affected by the storm, here in town and across the Carolinas.

Looking to support hurricane recovery?

There are so many ways. The State of North Carolina is accepting applications for volunteers to support recovery, and the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund is accepting contributions. Many local organizations such as UNC and the Red Cross are also mobilizing. OWASA continues to accept contributions to Care to Share, our customer assistance program.

Want to be prepared in an emergency?

For information on water and wastewater preparedness during emergencies, visit OWASA's hurricane information page. Always be prepared, and stay safe.