Plumber Finds Strength After Tornado Destroys Shop

Is your company in the eye of storm season? See how a positive outlook helped this plumber overcome a devastating tornado that left crews with a few folding tables and the shirts on their backs.
Plumber Finds Strength After Tornado Destroys Shop
John Johnson, owner of Water Works Plumbing in Moore, Okla., poses for a photo on a jobsite in Norman, Okla. Johnson prefers to keep his fleet small so he can stay involved with projects in the field and guarantee the highest quality work. (Photography by Brett Deering)

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On May 20, 2013, a powerful tornado swept through the Oklahoma City area, with winds reportedly topping 200 mph. Homes, schools and commercial buildings, including the shop and offices of Water Works Plumbing, were severely damaged. 

“The storm came in on the west side of town and tornadoes started popping up everywhere,” says Water Works owner John Johnson. “A tornado came across and peeled the roof back and blew in the back doors of our shop, and that wasn’t really even the bad part. The bad part was we had a record 11 inches of rain that night with no roof. It destroyed everything in the showroom. It destroyed all our office equipment. Everything was just ruined.” 

Later that night, after the worst had passed, Johnson and his wife, Donna, made their way to the shop to inspect the damage. It continued to rain inside the shop while Johnson grabbed the computer server and a few other things. The next morning he got in contact with his crew and told them what had happened. Then he rented a truck and they all met at the shop and started loading up everything they needed to continue working. Tools, equipment and supplies were put in the garage and yard at his house, and he was able to hook up the hard drive from the server to his home computer. 

“By Monday morning we had a couple office chairs and a table and things set up at the house and our admin staff was able to have a place to work and make calls to customers and continue with some of the jobs that were already scheduled,” he says. “We lost a few days of work, but it really wasn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things because everybody was OK.” 

Water Works operated out of a temporary facility with a few folding tables for the rest of the year, and finally moved back into the regular shop in February 2014. Johnson credits his family and staff for making the ordeal easier. 

“The character and the awesomeness of our employees, families and friends really came through. Donna and I are very lucky to be surrounded by such great people.” 

Want to learn more? Check out a full profile on Water Works.


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