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EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOR PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA
PATTERSON, C. L., CHRISTOPHER IMPELLITTERI, K. R. FOX, R. HAUGHT, AND J. A. GOODRICH. EMERGENCY RESPONSE FOR PUBLIC WATER SUPPLIES AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA. Presented at EWRI World Water Congress, Tampa Bay, FL, May 15 - 19, 2007.
Hurricane Katrina resulted in damage and destruction to local water supplies in Mississippi and Louisiana affecting millions of people. Immediately following the devastation, a multidisciplinary team of 30 EPA emergency response, research, and water program personnel joined forces with local health and environmental officials to help residents with access to safe drinking water supplies from hurricane-ravaged parishes surrounding New Orleans, LA. The EPA team met at the EPA Region VI Emergency Response Center in Dallas, Texas to prepare for assessment of over 400 public water supplies. EPA employees loaded SUVs, vans, and trucks with emergency response supplies and drove 9 hours to Livingston, LA. The EPA team began working 12- to 14-hour days for 10 straight days to restore safe drinking water to Louisiana communities. Each EPA person was paired with an inspector from a State Rural Water Association (LA, TX, GA, IN, IA, and IL were represented), or with someone from LA Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH). Major problems included; loss of power/loss of pressure, no backup generators (as many as 60 generators were requested), and damage/destruction to treatment plants and water distribution systems. Water systems were prioritized on the basis of type of water company (community, non-community, or transient), severity of damage, need, whether they had been visited already by LDHH, and accessibility considering flooding and loss of infrastructure (electrical power and roads). After the landfall of Hurricane Rita, a second team of EPA Office of Research and Development microbiologists assisted EPA Region VI with analysis of bacteria samples from public water systems at a mobile laboratory near Lake Charles, Louisiana.