Frederick City Manager Lee Littrell started his new job on Feb. 8 and six days later the entire town was thrown into a catastrophic situation when a major winter blizzard left 3,900 people without water.
Littrell, who worked at Wal-Mart for 30 years in Elk City, has since reached out to some former company colleagues for bottled water donations, but so far town residents remain dry for the most part. However, steps were taken Friday by state Rep. Trey Caldwell and the Southwest Ledger newspaper to provide two pallets of bottled water to Frederick residents.
“We’re hoping in the next day or two they (Wal-Mart) come through with some water. We’ll be happy to get whatever we can get. Right now, people don’t have enough water to brush their teeth or take a shower,” the city manager said. “The tank is empty.”
The problem arose when a water distribution line broke followed by a flood at the pump house. Now, one of Littrell’s priorities as Frederick’s new city manager is to build a second water distribution line from the lake to the town’s water tower in the event of another major winter event. Littrell said he’s getting estimates on a new water distribution line, but would likely pay for it with grants and loans.
“The residents are being very patient,” Littrell said, of the town’s reaction to the busted water line. “In fact, they’re preparing meals for the water department workers who are trying to repair the water line and remove all of the water from the pump house.”
Once water is back in service, the city will issue a temporary boil order until the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality provides Frederick with test results, which will provide information about the water quality.
Prior to his new job at Frederick, Littrell worked for 30 years at Elk City’s Wal-Mart store followed by a year as Elk City’s assistant city manager and six years as city manager.
“I left Wal-Mart and got a phone call asking if I was interested in being assistant city manager,” Littrell said. “The city manager at the time knew my management background. I look at this job (in Frederick) as an opportunity to help other people, maybe to be a benefit to the community.”
Another way to help Frederick residents is to improve the condition of the local streets, the city manager said.
“The streets in general need repair but the money isn’t there. We’ve been able to fill the potholes but we don’t have the money to resurface them at this time,” he said.
Anyone interested in donating water to Frederick should call city hall at 580-335-7551 or take it to the city offices located at 423 Cole Avenue.