I can’t say “thanks” enough!
During last week’s water crisis in the City of Independence, many forces converged. Several citizens reached out through social media to share sentiments of encouragement and gratitude. Some offered their time as volunteers to distribute bottled water or hand out fliers door to door. Others brought snacks to City Hall to reinforce sleep-deprived staff members working around the clock. Many prayed.
Some are calling it a Thanksgiving miracle, with equal attribution to divine intervention and well-organized crisis management. However you slice it, the monumental achievement of preserving our safe water supply and avoiding a shortage or boil order was an all-in effort that reflects, once again, the true spirit of community alive in our town.
Commissioner Leonhard Caflisch said it this way, “It takes good organization to plan and the cooperation of everyone to make it happen. This has been a total community effort…And you can never short sell a prayer and the power of what it can do.”
Much credit is due our local businesses - restaurants, car washes and all those who are typically high-volume water consumers - who heeded the request to close operations until the situation could be resolved. This undoubtedly was a significant sacrifice in terms of lost revenue for these businesses, but was absolutely critical in helping us maintain our water supply and keep our system pressurized. As you are Christmas shopping and entertaining friends and family this holiday season, please remember the contribution our local businesses made for the greater good and consider giving a little back by patronizing their services.
We can’t forget the volunteerism that literally exploded during this crisis. Citizens, business owners, civic groups, commissioners, volunteer firefighters…everyone stepped up, rearranging their holiday plans, to offer equipment, supplies and helping hands for all kinds of duties. It truly was awe-inspiring.
Finally, the above-and-beyond efforts of City staff during this situation are especially praiseworthy. Starting with our emergency responders who rushed to Neodesha to aid area crews fighting the Airosol fire on Tuesday; to our sleepless public safety director who served as liaison among the multiple local, state and federal entities monitoring the water situation; to our incredibly dedicated Water Treatment and Water Distribution staff, whose years of experience and intimate knowledge of all the nuances of our water system literally made all the difference in the world.
The majority of City and Independence Housing Authority employees were at work on Thanksgiving Day. Many volunteered without even being asked, and no one refused the call. While I wasn’t surprised at the level of dedication I witnessed, because I know what a great team I have, it made me extremely proud to see them handle yet another difficult situation with such professionalism. In the words of Mayor Gary Hogsett, the coordination of the crisis management worked “like a well-oiled machine.”
Certainly this accomplishment was a collective effort. Whether you sacrificed a few showers, ate Thanksgiving dinner on paper plates, shared information updates with your Facebook friends or sent up a special prayer or two, your effort helped. Everything you did contributed to help avert what could have otherwise been a much more prolonged, inconvenient and unsanitary crisis.
Commissioner Fred Meier said, “The long and short is, as a community, we pulled together and we pulled this off. I don’t know how you say thanks enough to all the people who were involved for their dedication and commitment to making this a great place to live.”