The taste of Texas returns

When a tornado hit our facility in Hawkins, we had to close up shop for repairs. But y'all showed us true Texan kindness. And because of your support, we're back to providing Ozarka® Natural Spring Water all across the Lone Star State.


Our team in Hawkins stepped up after the storm and got us through some tough times. Hear a few of the stories straight from the employees.


Facility Manager


It was Friday, April 29, and the radars started looking ugly around four o'clock. We were seeing counties in front of ours go under tornado warnings. When it became apparent that we were in the direct line of fire of a tornado, there were several leaders that were stepping up and saying, "Hey guys, listen this isn't a drill. This is serious. Let's get into our safe areas." Reports said it would hit around 6:15PM, and sure enough about 6:18PM it was on top of us. You could feel the pressure changing in the building and in the rooms. The ceiling tiles started bouncing up and down like they were gonna blow out of there. Within two minutes it was done.

At first, I don't think we even realized how much of a direct hit it was and how much damage we’d sustained. But quickly afterwards, we could see large holes in the roof. A fire line had ruptured in the building and was dumping water into the facility out of a 250-thousand gallon fire reserve tank. We had several 60-thousand pound air handlers on our roof that were thrown off their mounting stands and destroyed. In the parking lot, every light pole was down – most laid across the tops of cars. But everybody was safe. Nobody was injured whatsoever so that was the biggest blessing we could've had. Everybody was reaching out and taking care of one another.

One of the things I notice about the Hawkins facility and the people who work here is how much engagement and ownership is shown at all levels. Just a lot of pride in the facility. A lot of pride in the work we do. From the quality of the product we're putting out to the family atmosphere, it’s real important to people. Our team was already a close-knit group. I’d say the most positive thing to come out of this experience is the teamwork and the passion to get back to where we were and then get even better and stronger than ever.


Operations Manager


I'm the Operations Manager at the Ozarka facility in Hawkins, Texas and for three months we had no operations going on. The operations group really makes up the majority of the facility personnel. So first priority was ensuring job security. Our executive team and HR team really came through. And we were able to find work for every full-time Ozarka employee so nobody went without a full paycheck during the entire recovery.

Everybody took on some kind of different role whether it be safety, observation, security, all the way down to managing contract groups. Part of what we all did was bring water out for the local fire department to hand out to people who had property loss. We also donated 3 or 4 pallets at a school in Lindale that had been impacted by the tornado. It was actually my son's school. I was proud of him, he helped out and stayed there until the last case was loaded into a car.

I learned a lot. I got to work outside of my comfort zone for a long amount of time by doing some things that I probably wouldn't have gotten to do in just a normal setting for operations. I'm most grateful that as disruptive as this tornado was that there was nobody at the facility or the community that was seriously injured. And we've maintained that throughout the construction and the rebuilding of the facility.

I enjoy the camaraderie working here. The culture at this facility is very strong and this made us even stronger. You know, working in some tight spaces, doing some odd tasks, next to people that we wouldn't necessarily work with on a day-to-day basis. I think that's probably what's going to be the lasting effect of this. And we should come back even stronger.


Container Manufacturing


I've been in tornadoes before, but the damage, how quick it happened and what it did to the facility was mind boggling. But everybody was here for each other and thank goodness nobody was hurt.

The biggest shock is that in less than three months most everything is back up and running. Everybody pitched in where they could, helping to do whatever they could to clean up as fast as possible. Cleaning their machines, warehouse, whatever, whenever, however long it took.

When you think of a disaster, you think of everything being disoriented. That’s not the case here. People came together around a common goal to get the facility going. You think nobody really cares as long as they get a check. Well that wasn't true. Everybody just wanted to get things running, do their part and get the water back out there. Texas pride goes a long way.

From the tornado to the end of this to have nobody hurt was a testament to the safety program and the care. We watch each other's back up here. In the end, it worked out the best it could. Nobody hurt. Everybody is employed and we’re producing quality water.


Southwest Regional Planning Manager


It’s been amazing to see the care and commitment Ozarka invests in employees and the community. While you’re in the rebuilding process, it can be difficult to remain active in the community, but our leadership team made that a priority. We regularly attended Chamber events for the city of Hawkins, and participate in an academic banquet in May where we passed out scholarships to students. That was important to us.

Every year, we also host a golf tournament that raises close to $40,000 in support of the Northeast Texas Children’s Advocacy Center. They’re a nonprofit that relies on this event for a large part of their budget. Due to prolific rains, and then the storm, we had to push the event from April to October. We didn’t take it lightly, knowing that they financially relied on our participation and our vendors’ participation in the tournament. That’s why it was incredible when our vendors paid their tournament entry fees ahead of time so that the Advocacy Center could have the money for their budget earlier.

As we continue to work on the tournament for October, the support has been overwhelming. It’s truly touching that it’s being seen as an opportunity to celebrate the facility’s return to stability.

I’ve been in this company for three years and every year there’s some type of natural disaster. We shine through adversity because that’s just our spirit. That’s what makes the Hawkins facility great. But the great things we can do when we’re not up against forces of nature? I’m ready to show the rest of the nation just how great our team is.


Our team in Hawkins stepped up after the storm and got us through some tough times. Hear a few of the stories straight from the employees.

Ozarka® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water | Committed to Texas