Anheuser-Busch plant switches line from beer to emergency water

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. (WSB/CNN) — Cartersville’s Anheuser-Busch plant switched over one of its lines that produces cans of beer, and it is now producing cans of emergency drinking water for victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“We have a history of supporting relief efforts especially in times of disaster,” said Plant General Manager Rob Haas. “Emergency water is something our company is uniquely positioned to do.”

The switchover began early Friday morning and will continue for about 24 hours.  During that time, company officials estimate they’ll produce and ship about 44,000 cases of drinking water.  That means well over a million cans of water for disaster victims in New Jersey and New York.

“It’s a relatively easy process,” said Plant Operations Manager Scott Vail.  “The biggest thing we have to do is shut down and clean, because we don’t want any beer mixed in with the water we’re sending up there to the people.”

Vail is from New Jersey and still has family in the disaster area, so the decision to switch over from beer to emergency drinking water hits home.

“There’s people up there in need,” said Vail.  “We feel for them.  I’m actually from New Jersey, so I have a little deeper meaning for me personally, so we understand what those people are going through.”

Company officials said the federal government does not pay for the water.  They said Anheuser-Busch donates the cans free of charge, something they said the company has done for more than a hundred years.

“It makes us feel great,” said employee Sam McElveen of Floyd County.  “A lot of people don’t have the opportunity to help, so we look at this actually as an opportunity to help.”

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