- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

The deadly F4-class tornado that ripped through Southern Maryland last month did some of its heaviest damage in downtown La Plata, the Charles County seat. One of the tornado's casualties was the 75,000-gallon water tower, a town landmark since it was built in 1927.
La Plata mayor Bill Eckman says the water tower may not be rebuilt.
"The tower was completely destroyed," Mr. Eckman says. "The only question will be whether we rebuild the tower or not."
Fortunately for La Plata, the tower was not the town's only one. Mr. Eckman says three other towers have been built in La Plata since 1927, bringing the total storage capability to 1.2 million gallons. Because of that, the water tower that was destroyed provided an "insignificant amount of storage" for the growing county seat.
"At the time this town was built, La Plata had only 1,200 acres," Mr. Eckman says. "Now we have 5,500 acres. We needed more towers. The system is much wider now."
Mr. Eckman says city officials will run some computer models to determine whether a rebuilt tower will be needed, but he says it probably won't.
"We'd obviously prefer not to build it back if we don't have to," Mr. Eckman says. "It probably will cost around $300,000 to do it, and that's $300,000 we could spend in plenty of other ways with the damage we've had."


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