Thursday, March 19, 2020

Georgia National Guard Responds to Water Crisis

By Maj. William Carraway
Historian, Georgia Army National Guard

In this 1956 photo, Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Atlanta-based 201st Ordnance Company load up pipe in response to a water crisis in Loganville. Four years later, the unit would respond to a water crisis in Unadilla. Georgia Guard Archives.
 What would happen if a town in Georgia was suddenly without water? This was the situation that confronted the citizens of Unadilla Georgia in March 1960 and the Georgia National Guard Soldiers who sped to their rescue.

On the morning of March 24, 1960, the 1,200 residents of Unadilla Georgia, an agricultural community approximately 45 miles south of Macon, went about their normal routine showering for work and filling glasses of water for breakfast. Within hours, that routine was plunged into uncertainty with the collapse of the town’s water system. With the well yielding an undrinkable sandy mixture, city officials requested assistance. Receiving the call, the Georgia National Guard dispatched the 201st Ordnance Company from Atlanta. The 201st loaded trucks with pumps and pipe and prepared personnel for departure. Meanwhile, in Columbus, engineers of the 560th Armored Engineer Battalion dispatched Soldiers and vehicles to transport tanks and filtration systems.

Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the Columbus-based 560th Engineer Battalion set up a pumping station and filtration system in Unadilla, Ga. March 24, 1960 after the city's water well failed. Georgia Guard Archives.
Citizen Soldiers from Columbus and Atlanta converged on the scene in Unadilla and were joined by officials from the Georgia Department of Health. Working through the morning of March 25, the Soldiers installed a pump and filtration system to provide the citizens of Unadilla with drinking water while the Ga. DPH and other Guardsmen worked with city officials to repair the well. The units had responded to a similar water crisis in Loganville four years earlier, and Columbus engineers set up the sediment retention tanks and filtration systems while the 201st Ordnance Company installed more than half a mile of pipe.

By 3:00 the morning of March 25, the first pump became operational and by dawn, a second pump was providing drinking water for the city. The Guardsmen remained on duty in Unadilla until March 29, when the city was able to restore the production capability of an older city well.[i]

[i] "Unadilla Well Fails; Columbus, Atlanta NG Supplies Water." The Georgia Guardsman Magazine, April 1960, 16.


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  3. Citizen-soldiery at its finest. Still honoured that we worked together in Afghanistan and still grateful for all your effort -- and its practical benefits -- to a beleaguered people. A decade past, now, you showed the same compassion and initiative as had your predecessors from Atlanta and Columbus over half a century ago.