When plumbers in Texas were overwhelmed after winter storms and cold left busted pipes in their wake, industry professionals across the United States poured in to lend a hand.
Freezing temperatures from two artic blasts in February caused so many service disruptions and pipes to burst, at one point 14.5 million Texans — half the state's population — had no clean, safe water to drink, flush toilets, shower or wash clothes.
Water Mission, a non-profit engineering group based in North Charleston, S.C., mobilized skilled labor and started gathering tools.
"We are actively engaging Austin [Texas]-based groups and our corporate partners to bring the resources needed for the recovery effort, including plumbing supplies and equipment," Water Mission CEO and President George C. Greene IV said in a call for help.
Uponor North America isn't one of the corporate sponsors listed on the Water Mission website, but officials heeded the call. The Apple Valley, Minn.-based company donated $15,000 to Water Mission and $15,000 to the American Red Cross Central and South Texas Region.
Part of the goal is to get plumbers the tools they need to get safe water flowing in homes again, especially for vulnerable storm victims like the elderly, disabled and uninsured or underinsured.
Uponor produces cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) plumbing systems for residential uses. Maybe the company's products will be used, maybe not, but the financial assistance will get taps flowing again with a necessity most people take for granted.
"Our hearts go out to those in Texas impacted by the extreme weather and the damage caused to homes and businesses," Uponor North America President Bill Gray said in a news release. "We understand the importance of clean, healthy water and proudly stand behind the trade professionals who work hard every day to ensure our plumbing systems are delivering this life resource consistently and reliably."
The need for plumbers and repair supplies in Texas continues, according to Water Mission's strategic partnership director Rogers Hook.
"I spoke with a CEO of a major plumbing company in Austin, and they were already short on plumbers because of the explosive growth in the area," Hook said in the release. "They have more than 1,000 jobs on the calendar, which are all emergency calls to get water restored. They're estimating it will take up to two months to meet the demand."
In the meantime, Greene told NBC that plumbers are putting a dent in the lists of residents awaiting repairs, often making quick work of miserable situations endured for weeks.
"There was a plumbing repair job that took someone 15 minutes," Greene told NBC News. "In those 15 minutes, they restored water flow to a home that hadn't had water in two weeks."
If only there was a quick fix for what really ails Texas: A failed primary electric grid that couldn't meet demand to heat homes, many of which are non-winterized and susceptible to freezing temperatures and frozen pipes.
The problem is multi-faceted and the solution will be, too, with plastic plumbing businesses and materials playing a role.