When a water line broke in Oklahoma’s Nowata County, leaving 2,000 residents without potable or running water, the Cherokee Nation came to the rescue.
On October 11 and 13 the tribe delivered 4,000 bottles of precious H2O to the South Coffeyville Fire Department, which distributed the water to residents, according to a media release. Hearing about the predicament of residents in South Coffeyville, Cherokee emergency management officials worked with the 580-member Native American Fellowship Indian organization in the town. The break forced the Oklahoma Union Public School system to send 670 students and 90 faculty members home, the Cherokee statement said.
“I appreciate what Cherokee Nation has done the last few days, coming up here with the water,” said Bill Davis, president of the 580-member Native American community organization in South Coffeyville, in the Cherokee Nation statement. “It’s very important that everyone has access to clean drinking water. The chief called this past weekend to tell us that if we needed it he would send a group up with water, and he delivered on that.”
On Monday some of the water went directly to the school, with a total of 16,000 bottles, 336 one-gallon jugs and a 535-gallon tank of water donated by the Cherokee Nation, the media release said.
“We will always support our citizens in need,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker in the statement. “The Cherokee Nation is an integral part of the community in good times and bad. When unexpected emergencies like this strike, the Cherokee Nation immediately steps in and plays an important role.”
The incident began on Thursday October 8, when construction crews accidentally hit a major water line, according to CBS affiliate KJRH News. Although the workers immediately installed a pipe to restore water flow, the pipe sprung a leak the next day during a heavy rainstorm. The six- to seven-inch rainfall on Friday flooded the area, the television station reported, and authorities once again were forced to cut off water for hundreds of residents. But no sooner was the water restored than the area was put under a boil-water advisory.
As of Tuesday morning October 14, school officials received word that the water was once again safe to drink, the Cherokee statement said.