NATURAL DISASTER INFORMATION
Water Utility Management maintains and operates water and sewer systems throughout Coastal Georgia. During a disaster situation, including tropical storms, WUM 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 your local authorities, WUM strongly recommends that you evacuate. WUM recommends that all residents have an evacuation plan, 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 you elect to stay in your home during a disaster, please understand that you will likely lose all utility services. We highly recommend that residents follow instructions from their local authorities. If you remain in your home, we recommend that you ‘bank’ water for drinking and for basic needs. Fill containers with water for drinking, and fill bathtubs with water for use in flushing toilets, or for hygiene. High-volume, food-grade water storage containers are available, and highly recommended, as are water treatment kits:
Remember that, depending on the disaster, it may be weeks before clean drinking water is available at your home. We recommend that you evacuate, or prepare to ‘bank’ enough water to last a week.
DURING A DISASTER
During a natural disaster, WUM employees will follow the orders and recommendations made by local authorities. If we are ordered to evacuate, our staff will evacuate for the duration of the danger. WUM 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 quick re-entry to the disaster area.
If a disaster occurs in the Savannah Area, WUM will close our office so the staff may evacuate. Many of our services are remotely located, however, so customers may still access information from our website, and may still interact with their accounts online and through our automated phone system. WUM will maintain an answering service that will handle customers’ calls and report emergencies to WUM – so we can respond as soon as it is safe. WUM will provide information to customers via our website, and through our Twitter and Facebook accounts.
WUM may not be able to reply consistently to email or Social Media during a disaster event. 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
WUM will coordinate with emergency management agencies to quickly and safely gain re-entry to disaster areas. WUM 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 WUM may issue notices for customers to boil water (Boil Water Notice) 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 will be difficult and expensive, and WUM will not be able to 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 Notice 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.