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Oklahoma Emergency Management: 120 water systems affected by latest winter storm

Posted at 10:53 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 23:55:49-05

TULSA, Okla.  — While large cities in Oklahoma dig out the hundreds of waterline breaks after frigid temps, rural water districts are dealing with the same problems.

”What we’ve got here is—we do have multiple water departments across the county that have suffered catastrophic failures in either their supplies, their supply lines or their feeder lines that are inside their municipalities, and through it all, everybody has kind of stood up together and stood strong and taken care of each other,” said Jeff Smith, director of Muskogee County Emergency Management.

Smith said nearly half of the county’s rural water districts have suffered damage.

"Our biggest problems through this whole thing has been the long stretches of cold, freezing weather,” he said.

Local businesses and even the state of Oklahoma are shuttling in pallets of bottled water. The hope is to provide some relief to the people who don’t have the ability to get out right now.

"We’re trying to get as much drinking water as we can out to those rural water districts," Smith said. "We contacted them all. The ones that have been several days without water we’re making sure that we have pallets of water there for the weekend."

Smith added, "We are a society used to turning on a switch or a valve, and we have instant hot water or instant heat and when that’s taken away from us, its a struggle.”

Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality said 35 water districts including Tulsa and Oklahoma City have declared precautionary boil orders.


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