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In its continuing commitment to clean water, GF Piping Systems (GF) recently supported recovery efforts in Texas in conjunction with Water Mission, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safe water solutions to people in developing countries and disasters. Freezing temperatures during the record-breaking February cold storm that hit much of the South caused pipes to burst and left residents without clean drinking water. To make matters worse, COVID-19 had already caused shortages in the supply chain and plumbing materials needed for repairs were limited. Licensed plumbers in the Austin area were also in short supply. The first day of the storm, Austin’s 27 plumbers were flooded with over 1000 emergency requests.
In response to the Texas crisis, Water Mission swiftly implemented a plan to support re-building efforts by mobilizing skilled plumbers and setting up and stocking a ‘Plumber's Store’ in Austin with desperately needed supplies. These supplies would then be readily available for repairing water lines in homes and water stations.
As news of the savage storm damage spread, Chris Blumer, GF’s Head Region South America, was contacted by Water Mission to see how GF could help the Texas water plight. Upon learning about the Plumber Store plan, GF jumped in to provide plumbing parts to help stock it.
Darryl Edwards, GF’s National Accounts Managers for Vinyls in Atlanta, contacted Rogers Hook, strategic partnership director at Water Mission to coordinate details and put the project in motion. “We quickly agreed on the material list required, and I went to work organizing all the paperwork to get everything shipped as soon as possible out of GF Harvel in Little Rock Arkansas,” he said.
Rob Strickland, managing director at GF Harvel in Little Rock, Arkansas, made sure all was clear to get the donated supplies to Texas quickly.
“This is just part of what GF does,” Strickland said in describing the project. “We support clean water and safe water initiatives around the world, it’s something at the very core of who we are. In this case, being able to help someone right in our backyard was really nice because you usually see these types of things from far away. We had 20” of snow here and sub-freezing temperatures, but we didn’t lose power like they did in Texas. Most of us in Arkansas know Texas very well and we wanted to help our neighbors.”
The Little Rock team loaded up a truck with small diameter pipe and fittings that included some 1,600 Schedule 80 PVC tees, unions, couplings, adaptors, and reducer bushing parts in sizes ranging from 1/2”, 1”, 1-1/2” and 2”. 5,500ft 20ft lengths of Schedule 80 PVC pipe in corresponding pipe sizes were also packed. The entire load was shipped to Austin.
There, the shipment was unloaded to the Plumber Store where a small army of volunteer plumbers could quickly access the parts to make water line repairs. As of mid-March, this relief effort contacted over 500 households and assisted repairing water lines to over 233 of them. A small army of 39 volunteer plumbers from 19 states worked 11 hours a day, five days a week to help people in need of clean water.
“We were amazed by GF’s generosity,” said Rogers Hook of Water Mission. “When they initially offered us a donated product allotment, we realized we would need more, so we asked to buy the additional product. The final material shipment was actually triple in size over the original allotment and GF just said they’d handle it without any required payment from Water Mission! With this extra help, Water Mission was able to use those funds to house and feed the plumbers that we had recruited from out of state and provide some monetary reimbursement for work as well. Bottom line, GF’s products helped a lot of people.”
“Direct and easy access to clean water is a core concern of GF Piping Systems and GF's Clean Water Foundation,” summed up Blumer. “This was something tangible that we could do, and practically in our backyard.”