Photo courtesy of 802Relief
Scott and Deana Tommola are Center Rutland residents providing volunteer leadership during the area’s ongoing drinking water crisis following the Aug. 28 floods. The couple are helping to distribute water filters to Vermonters without potable water following the disaster. Photo courtesy of 802Relief
As the Rutland area recovers from the Aug. 28 floods resulting from Tropical Storm Irene, many city and county residents are still struggling with a lack of drinking water. Other Vermont communities are also facing potable water shortages.
Rutland officials said last week that they are working to restore the community’s drinking water by the end of September.
Last month’s flooding knocked out the city’s filtration system, but local residents like Scott Tommola are working around the problem.
Tommola, a physical therapist at Advantage Physical Therapy in Center Rutland, began providing individual water filters to neighbors and other Vermonters unable to access potable water.
Tommola’s nonprofit 802 Relief organization is distributing water filters donated by Hydro-Photon Inc. of Maine. His wife Deana is also helping with the organization’s much needed errands of mercy.
“With any disaster the first need is always clean water. We’re reaching out to Vermonters one water filter at a time, Tommola said.
Tommola also said that many Rutland-area wells were contaminated with sewage and chemicals following Irene’s torrential rain.
“802Relief’s Mission for Hurricane Irene is to acquire and distribute water filters to Vermonters who’s usual water supply has been interrupted,” Tommola said. “Why filters? Well, while it is true power is being restored to the remaining areas of Vermont, many residents are finding their well flooded with unsafe water and clogged with silts and sand. Each of the filters we are distributing can filter 1,500 liters of water before the filter cartridge needs to be changed. If we can get people to make their own potable water, think of the room that saves on supply vehicles for other critical supplies.”
Tommola said that Hydro-Photon also donated its SteriPens, a battery powered product that uses an ultraviolet light beam to kill microorganisms in drinking water. Platypus hydration packs were also donated by Cascade Designs of Washington, Tommola added.
Tommola, his wife, and fellow volunteers were distributing the water filters in the Rutland area and beyond—including Bridgewater, Halifax, Mount Snow, Pittsfield, Plymouth, Stockbridge, Whitingham, Wilmington.
Tommola said many Vermonters want to know how they can help with 802Relief’s efforts.
“You can help us by purchasing and donating a Platypus Gravity Works Water Filter and have it shipped to 79 Business Route 4, Center Rutland, Vt. 05736. I will personally see that the filters you donate end up either in the hands of the folks who need them or in the hands of the people who can reach the people who need them,” he said.
Those wanting to help can also make financial contributions to 802Relief by sending a check to Tommola at the same address noted above.
Tommola also encourages potential donors with questions to call him directly at 802-236-1381 or e-mail him at 802Relief@gmail.com.
“Funds will be used to purchase more filters,” Tommola said. “Funds remaining at the conclusion of our relief efforts will be divided equally among the food banks in each of the communities where our filters were distributed. Food bank stocks have been significantly depleted since Hurricane Irene.”