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Gulf Coast cities wait for help from Rural Water Associations

Approximately 25 State Rural Water Associations from as far away as Alaska and Maine have offered much needed help to the hard hit areas particularly Mississippi & Louisiana. 

The National Rural Water Association reported, “Many of our member systems (about 50 plus) that we have talked with are without power. We currently have at least 12 generators in transit to the affected locations. Several of these systems have depleted their water storage supply.” 

Mississippi Rural Water’s greatest obstacle is the fuel shortage. At the few stations that actually have electrical power so they can run their fuel pumps, people are waiting up 2 hours for gasoline. Mississippi Rural Water is experiencing difficulty in getting enough fuel to run the portable generators that are desperately needed by water and wastewater utilities trying to re-establish service to the region. Water and wastewater service is critical in helping to control the outbreak of disease. 

Louisiana, the hardest hit of all the states, continues to wait for the go ahead from its Emergency Management Team to begin the grueling task of reestablishing utility services. 

According to their staff is on alert and anxiously waiting for the go ahead from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) to enter the disaster area. 

Currently, LRWA is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DHH to gather information regarding Louisiana water and wastewater systems without power, line pressure, or other critical service elements. 

LRWA has contacted all of its members not affected by Katrina asking for generators, pumps, chlorine and other crucial elements. These items will be matched with the appropriate systems needing assistance. Once the all clear is given, help will be on its way. 

According to Wendy LaFleurLaFleur, of the Louisiana Rural Water Association, "Only federally authorized people are currently allowed into the affected areas.” She also indicated, that many other volunteers are standing by including LRWA’s associate members (suppliers) who will send equipment and personnel to the scene. 

Florida Rural Water Association is packed up and ready to roll to Louisiana’s aid. Since Florida was hit 4 times last year, FRWA is probably, the most experienced of all the state affiliates in hurricane response procedures. They know about the voracious need for portable generators along with experienced disaster response personnel.