With power outages across the state, pumpers are running 24 hours a day to keep lift stations from overflowing


Throughout the power outages associated with Hurricane Irma, septic pumpers have come together to bail out cities all over Florida. The outages left many municipal lift stations inoperable, and septic service companies across the state have been pumping 24 hours a day to prevent sewer backups.

Relief efforts by pumpers have taken place in all corners of the state map. We’ve seen reports in the far southeastern city of Naples, in the north-central area of Gainesville, and in Crestview in Florida’s panhandle region.

It’s been a struggle for pumpers as they’re trying to keep up with residential crises while city officials call on them for help.

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“I’m doing both,” says Tommy Jones of Jones Plumbing & Septic Tank Service in Trenton. “One truck is at the city 24 hours a day, and one is doing as much as we can keeping residents happy by running around 12 hours a day.”


Here, Hughes' two trucks are teaming up on a lift station in Florida's panhandle region. (Photo By James Hughes)

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Jones says he requested help from two of his friends who drive semitrucks for a living. “They took off work to help so we can run 24 hour days.”

James Hughes of Zeb Watts Septic in Crestview has kept in touch during the crisis and says he’s made friends with some fellow pumpers during the relief effort. He says he’s been a part of several emergency situations before this one.

“The city basically panics and starts calling, 'Mayday! Mayday!'” he says.

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There’s also some risk to the trucks themselves when they’re being run 24 hours a day for an indefinite time period. “I've seen a few broken down, a couple blown motors,” says Hughes. “It’s just crazy here, especially the traffic during the day.”


This shot shows a number of pumpers waiting in line to help the city of Gainesville. Traffic is also backed up. (Photo By Tommy Jones of Jones Plumbing & Septic Tank Service in Trenton)

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