Water Crisis in Andrews, Indiana

Jun 29, 2020

Andrews, IN - The story of water contamination in the town of Andrews, Indiana, continues to unfold, but The Salvation Army is working to help bring relief to residents in their time of great need. On June 19, town officials informed residents that their town water supply had dangerously high levels of the carcinogen vinyl chloride and was unsafe to drink. The need for bottled water was immediate and great, and The Salvation Army was called into action.

Retired Salvation Army officer Major Gerald Smelser headed to Andrews to assess the situation and talk to town officials. The next day he way back with Captain Dennis Marak, who had been stationed in nearby Huntington for several years and was familiar with the area. They brought with them 36 cases of water bottles (190 gallons) to shore up the town's public water supply until a semi load could get to Andrews.

Andrews town council president, John Harshburger, was excited to see The Salvation Army step in and help. "I didn't know the Army could do this," he said. "We are very grateful for what you can do for us."

"He was just surprised how fast we got it," added Major Smelser. "We talked about it one day and the next day we had it. The town was surprised." 

Bert Williams, The Salvation Army's Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) Coordinator, was able to quickly address this pressing need because of EDS funding from both individuals and foundations. "This is where it's good to have donations coming in year round just marked for Indiana disaster," Bert explained. "Combined with the Lilly Foundation's annual support, I don't have to worry about whether or not I can get the supplies I need to start giving assistance immediately. It's comforting to know that when called upon, I can spring into action."

The Salvation Army worked with Convoy of Hope to get a large semi filled with water bottles of various sizes to Andrews. When the truck arrived on June 24, it filled the town's warehouse with 17 pallets of water weighing more than 41,300 lbs. Additional shipments are in the planning stage now as the water crisis in Andrews continues.

Town residents currently come to the warehouse every day to pick up water for drinking and cooking while the town officials address the contamination issue. Andrews has filed a lawsuit against Raytheon, formerly United Technologies Corporation, in response to the repeated contamination of the town's wells over a time period of 27 years.

You can help The Salvation Army respond to the needs of our communities by making a donation to our Emergency Disaster Services program. Click the button below to make your gift.

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