Pumping Emergency: A Godwin Distributor Helps Flood-Ravaged City

When floodwaters in Tennessee rendered wastewater lift stations nearly inoperable, Heartland Pump Rental & Sales stepped up to assist.

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Want to learn more about the City of Clarksville's flood recovery? See "Tennessee Wastewater Utility Rebuilds," which ran in the January 2015 issues of Municipal Sewer & Water

As floodwaters rose in Clarksville, Tennessee, on May 5, 2010, the phone started ringing at Heartland Pump Rental & Sales. And they continued ringing nearly nonstop for the best part of a month.

Communities and businesses needed diesel pumps to move water for various purposes. Clarksville (Tenn.) Gas & Water was among the earliest callers, needing 14 pumps to bypass flooded and inoperable wastewater lift stations.

The team at Heartland, then an independent distributor for Godwin Pumps (a Xylem brand) and now owned by Xylem, swung into action.

“That Saturday morning, I was the lucky guy on call,” says Randy Perry, then a salesman and now manager of Heartland branches in Nashville and Horn River, Mississippi. “I got the first call at 8 a.m., and we started mobilizing. As the day progressed, the calls kept coming and coming, and the water kept rising. It flooded downtown Nashville and rolled on through the Clarksville area.”

In that flurry, Perry took a call from Mike Crawford, public utilities senior manager of wastewater collections with Clarksville Gas & Water.

“He told me to send anything I had,” says Perry. “They were going underwater. The owner of our company at the time, John Payne, called the owner of Godwin, and they worked out getting pumps to us from as far away as California.

“We had pumps rolling in here all hours of the day and all through the night. It really never stopped for about 25 days. Truckloads of pumps rolled into a Nashville parking lot. We had lost our building and our lot to the flood, and so we were operating from a parking lot that a local real estate agent had. Trucks rolled in and we wouldn’t even unload them. We’d just turn them and send them where they needed to go.”

The pumps for Clarksville, in 300 to 3,000 gpm ratings, came from California — the Godwin team had located them on a barge in San Francisco Bay. They arrived in Clarksville in 28 hours with help from a state patrol escort from the Tennessee state line at Memphis.

“We had some diesel and electric-drive pumps on rent to Clarksville for almost two years,” Perry says.

Heartland, with headquarters in Carterville, Illinois, and offices in Nashville, Evansville, Indiana, and Horn Lake, Mississippi, at the time was the largest distributor of Godwin pumps in the United States.

“Godwin gave us full cooperation,” says Perry. “Anything we needed, they put their people at our disposal. We would call and they would get the equipment on the way to us.”

Xylem now has 45 branches for Godwin Pumps across the United States.

“We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the guys in Clarksville Gas & Water,” Perry says.  They’ve always called when they needed something, and I feel we’ve always responded as quickly as we could. We’ve developed a very special relationship.”

The respect goes both ways. 

“Heartland has been a great company to work with, especially for their reaction time, service and technical support,” Crawford says.


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