As heavy wind and rain from Hurricane Ian swept across Volusia County Wednesday night, Sept. 28, the Town of Pierson’s backup generator powering the town’s water pumps was knocked offline. That meant when the town’s electricity was inevitably knocked offline due to the storm, there would be no backup to power Pierson’s water pumps.
Thanks to some quick thinking and heroic driving, the town never missed a beat.
Some lost their power as early as Wednesday night.
An early-morning phone call on Thursday, Sept. 29, by Mayor Samuel G.S. Bennett ensured the town would be able to get a backup generator, but there was one hitch: The generator was in Gainesville.
Later that day, after the worst of the storm’s wind and rain had blown over, some of Pierson’s Public Works Department staff hit the road to pick up the generator from Gainesville.
The town was able to ensure its elevated water tower was filled with water, too, but the quick pickup made it so it wasn’t even necessary.
“The town never missed a step,” Bennett said. “We had plenty of water, and now the power is back on and it’s all good.”
When The Beacon spoke with Bennett, he had just had his power restored that morning.
“I’m very thankful — I can’t say enough — to have power,” he said.
That spirit of teamwork could be felt throughout the small town of Pierson before, during and after Ian. Students from T. DeWitt Taylor Middle-High School distributed sandwiches to community members without power, and, while the closest county-run shelter for Northwest Volusia residents was in DeLand, one of the town’s Catholic churches, San Jose Mission, opened its doors to take people in.
“Everybody’s working together,” Mayor Bennett said. “It’s just wonderful to see how everybody works together.”
Pierson resident Sue Elliott said the people who helped keep the water online were heroes.
“They averted what could have been a disaster,” she said. “So many residents are totally unaware of the close miss, but many of us do know and really appreciate their efforts.”