NATURAL DISASTER INFORMATION
Water Utility Management maintains and operates Drinking Water and Wastewater systems throughout Coastal Georgia. During a disaster situation, including tropical storms, we will manage and deploy resources in the best possible way to service our customers. It is likely that many events will be beyond our control during a disaster, and that water and sewer service will be limited. Please read below for a summary of our policies and our recommendations to customers for these emergency events.
BEFORE A DISASTER
WUM maintains water and sewer systems daily to ensure that structures are stable, and that all equipment, including electrical controls, consistently operate. WUM has also prepared for emergency operations by investing in fixed-site and mobile generators and sewer effluent pumps, to provide services following an emergency, should electrical service fail. WUM maintains an emergency plan with its office and field employees, and coordinates with local authorities to ensure our people may re-enter an emergency area, and we are positioned to respond following an emergency
Customers / Residents
If an evacuation is recommended or ordered by local authorities, we strongly recommend that customers evacuate accordingly. We recommend that all residents have an evacuation plan, communication methods in place, including a safe destination and reliable transportation. The following link to the National Hurricane Center provides educational material regarding preparation, including developing an emergency kit and packing list. NHC also provides updated forecasts and tracking information for tropical storms. http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/
If customers elect to stay in their home during a disaster, loss of all utility services could be likely and should be planned for in advance. We highly recommend that residents follow instructions from their local authorities. If customers remain in their home, we recommend preparing safe water reserves for drinking and basic needs. Fill containers with water for drinking, and fill bathtubs with water for use in flushing toilets or hygiene needs. High-volume, food-grade water storage containers are available and highly recommended, as are water treatment kits:
Please understand that, depending on the disaster, it could be weeks before clean drinking water is available at customers’ homes. We recommend that customers evacuate or prepare to ‘bank’ enough water to last at least one week.
DURING A DISASTER
During a natural disaster, our employees will follow the orders and recommendations made by local authorities. If ordered to evacuate, our staff will evacuate for the duration of the danger. We will monitor the disaster event, in coordination with local Emergency Management agencies, and will constantly assess conditions to prepare an organized response. Our equipment and staff will be staged for re-entry to the disaster area in order to best serve customers.
If a disaster occurs in the Savannah Area, we will close our office so the staff may evacuate accordingly. Many of our services are remotely located so customers may still access information from our website and still interact with their accounts online and through our automated phone system. We will maintain an Emergency Answering Service that will handle customers’ calls and report emergencies to our staff so we can respond appropriately as soon as it is safe to do so. Our office phone number will automatically transfer to the Emergency Answering Service, please call 912-352-9339 to report outages and service interruptions and our staff will respond as soon as they are able to. We will provide information to customers via our website, Interactive Map, Twitter and Facebook pages, and SMS alerts if customers are signed up to receive them.
We may not be able to reply consistently to email or Social Media during a disaster event, we thank you for your understanding and patience in advance. We recommend that customers check our website to determine the status of their water system, and report any new emergencies through the answering service.
Customers / Residents
During an emergency, customers who have remained in their homes can expect utility services to fail. Customers will likely be without electricity, and may lose natural gas and water and sewer service. Water service requires electricity to pump water to homes. Sewer services also require electrical pumps to move effluent. During a disaster, it is possible for sewers to become full of effluent from homes, as well as flood water and rain water. Customers should not rely on sustained water or sewer services during an emergency. Again, we recommend evacuation during disaster situations.
AFTER A DISASTER
We will coordinate with emergency management agencies to quickly and safely gain re-entry to disaster areas. We must also coordinate with other utility providers to ensure safe access to areas where power lines have fallen, or gas lines have broken. WUM’s staff will re-enter the disaster area as quickly as possible and begin the repairs to restore water and sewer services. Depending on the scope of damage, and the ability to transport and deploy resources, services may remain impaired for an extended period. Service may also be intermittent, and we may issue notices for customers to boil water (Boil Water Advisory- BWA) until laboratory test results certify the safety of the water in accordance with state regulations.
The recovery process following a disaster can be long and arduous. We ask for patience from customers as we attempt to repair leaks, rehabilitate wells, and restore services. WUM will make every effort to minimize service interruptions, and to make repairs as quickly and as safely as possible. Recovery can be difficult and expensive, we do not provide bill credits to customers for service time lost to a natural disaster.
Customers / Residents
WUM recommends that customers stay out of disaster areas until they are instructed to return by local officials. Local authorities may allow re-entry to disaster areas to begin recovery efforts, but residents should be mindful that utility services may not be operating. WUM recommends that residents check our website to determine the status of their water system, prior to reoccupying their home. Bear in mind that service may be intermittent as we repair leaks, or reallocate resources. Water systems will likely operate under a Boil Water Advisory until laboratory results can certify that the water is safe for consumption. It’s best for customers to stay outside the disaster area until all services are restored. WUM will make every effort to restore full service as quickly as possible, and to keep customers informed as we recover from the disaster together.