HAWKINS, TX (KLTV) - A bottled water company is working to find temporary employment for its employees after a storm damaged its Wood County facility.
The Ozarka water bottling company in Hawkins was damaged during recent storms. The plant employs 207 full time employees and 58 seasonal employees. When the storm struck, the company was in the middle of a shift change.
"... we had almost double the number of people on-site than usual," Community and Media Relations Spokeswoman Catherine Herter said. "When the alarms sounded, employees coming off shift, those coming on shift, and visiting truckers quickly gathered in designated storm shelters within the plant."
Despite the damage to the structure, there were no injuries. Which, Herter said, is chiefly due to the company's approach regarding employee safety.
"Safety is of utmost priority at Ozarka Brand Natural Spring Water, for all our employees and our operations. When disaster strikes, our first responsibility is the health, safety and well-being of our employees and their families and the security and quality of our operations," Herter said.
"We are thankful to our leadership team for their quick response and the county for their forewarning of the tornado, which helped us prepare and secure the safety of our people," she said.
Herter said the factory is working with the Texas Workforce Commission and offering interim employment opportunities at other Ozarka facilities in the state until the Hawkins facility is functional.
The National Weather Service confirmed Sunday that an EF2 tornado ripped through areas of Wood County on Friday. The NWS says areas to the west of Hawkins were affected, knocking down trees and power lines along the way. Just north of Hawkins, the Holly Lake Ranch area was also hit.
The storm caused damage to the Ozarka plant roof, other infrastructure, and personal vehicles in the yard. The company is now focusing on disaster assessment and recovery efforts. Ozarka has partnered with Belfour Disaster Recovery Team and a company engineering team to determine the extent of damage to the factory and develop a plan to get the factory operational.
Customers are unlikely to see a change in service.
"Fortunately, we have inventory and other resources in the state to support our customers in Texas during this time, and we have been able to provide donated bottled water to support our disaster relief teams and neighbors in Wood County," Herter said.