This has been one of those weeks that Bradfordians will not forget for a long time. I really wanted to share some of the outpouring of help that we received this week. For those that don’t know this, besides being the Executive Director of the Chamber, I am also the Chairman of the Bradford City Water Authority. Also, if you aren’t from Bradford, we had a 24″ water main break on Monday afternoon that is the main artery into our town, and by Tuesday 18,000 people were without water. To make matters worse, the repair had to be done in below zero weather, and we had to go through two feet of cement. The break was on Campus Drive near the entrance of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
So let’s start with the Bradford City Water Department crew. They are my heroes, and they truly went above and beyond for their job, standing in water with -20 degree weather all night long. We are so fortunate to have them on our team, and as Kim Benjamin texted me on Tuesday morning, “There is nobody I would rather see tackling this job than the crew I have.” Kim, I agree! I also have to commend Kim for his dedication and for staying up 36 hours before finally getting some rest. I also want to thank our Board of Directors, Tom Arrowsmith, Bob Douglas, Terry Lopus and Richard Luther for being in the office to support Kim!
As for UPB, they were great! They provided shelter for our men, food, water and coffee, and any equipment that we needed was available to us. Two male students went to Tim Horton’s and bought 40 cups of coffee for the men. The next morning workers from the Bradford Sanitary Department came in to relieve our men so they could get some rest. American Refining Group provided a crane and operator to help with getting the damaged pipe out of the ground. Cummins Construction helped with getting the hole filled back in. Verizon offered their warming tents to our men. Rob Huber came out with gloves for the men, and the next day a woman with her daughter brought more gloves.
Mayor Riel contacted Governor Wolf, and within minutes Governor Wolf called the Mayor and said they would have people in Bradford in the next few hours, and they arrived that same day from his office and FEMA. Police Chief Chris Lucco took over as head of the Command Center along with Fire Chief Richard Zmuda. All the local fire departments helped with getting bottled water to our residents. Bruce Manning and his staff from McKean County Emergency Management came and stayed at the command center and have been a big help. I should also mention that when Chief Lucco was finally able to go home, and everyone on his street had water, he found out his service line was frozen. Mayor Riel and City Administrator Teri Cannon also have been at the Command Center over these past five days, and have made sure that we had everything that we need. In our office Roger Pais, Katie Vecellio and Troy Coppella have taken all the calls, and made sure that someone answered those calls. I also want to thank all the supervisors from Lewis Run, Bradford Township and Foster Township for their help!
FEMA helped with getting water and water tanks to Bradford, and they are still at our Command Center. Both the Olean and Bradford Walmart provided tractor trailers of water to our residents, and many more businesses, organizations, agencies, and churches have contributed as well with donating water as well as distributing it. Kudos to all of these great people.
We are making progress, and hopefully by Monday we will be back to full capacity. Then we will start testing the water so that we can lift the boil water order.
I could go on and on with what has happened over the past five days, and with what I have written. I know I haven’t come close to mentioning everyone that helped us, but once again Bradford people stepped up and took care of each other.
I am so proud to be a member of this community, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!
See you next Friday!