Local water producer in high gear for Florence

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SARATOGA — It’s all hands on deck at Old Saratoga this week.

The water company in Saratoga is at peak production bottling gallon and 5-gallon containers of water from the Black Creek Aquifer.

“We are under the gun,” said Tony Verdini, general manager at Old Saratoga. “It is a flurry of activity right now. We are producing this product day and night so we can accommodate the community.”

“We just had the Stantonsburg Police Department here earlier getting water,” Verdini said. “The fire department is coming this afternoon.”

All attention is on Florence and the aftermath. Water is a lifesaving commodity at times like this when conventional water sources may not be safe to drink and use.

Verdini said the company has received calls from its various customer bases that typically have not purchased from Old Saratoga before.

“They understand the consequences of this hurricane, and they understand that this is the only product that will provide enough water in order for someone to sustain a couple of days,” Verdini said.

Verdini said the company’s employees know that they have a responsibility to the community in order to get water out as quickly as they can.

“We have already dedicated our folks to start producing this. We have to produce it working two consecutive shifts and not going home until we meet our needs,” Verdini said. “We have done that in past hurricanes. We have worked 16 and 17 straight days without a break making sure we get water out of here, and that’s precisely what we are going to do with this.”

Management joins right in alongside regular production line personnel.

“The intensity to get this much water out is very stressful,” Verdini said. “There is no question about that. It is stressful on our employees, but we are going to do everything we possibly can. Right now we have got to dedicate every resource we have in getting water out of this plant. Every hour is consequential to us. Every single hour.”

It’s a responsibility the company takes on with pride.

“That is who we are. We are on a high alert, high-speed adrenaline rush right now because we know that if we can’t get this water out, people are going to be hurting,” Verdini said.

“You throw everything out the window except making sure you are getting water out and making sure people have it, and they can use it.”

Verdini said he has no idea how many new customers will call.

“Wilson Medical just called up and said, ‘We’re not a customer of yours, but is there any possible way we can buy a pallet?’”

“‘We are going to fill that for you immediately,’” he told them.

“We are going to do our best. We have plenty of boxes. We have plenty of bags. We brought another filler in that we are going to hook up as well. We are going to be prepared. There is no question about that,” Verdini said. “We are going to accommodate anybody who calls here. Anybody who needs water, we are going to accommodate them. It could be a survival issue.”

Stantonsburg Police Chief Orlando Rosario said Verdini has a history of bending over backwards to accommodate water needs.

“He has provided any amount of water that we needed for the community or any water that we needed as first responders to do the job,” Rosario said. “He has been there supplying us 100 percent, just giving it to us, not charging a dime, just giving it to the community. It has been a blessing for us and for a town of our size.”