Yahoo News is publishing first-person accounts from Charleston, W.V., residents who have been affected by the chemical spill that shut off water supplies for about 300,000 residents in nine counties.
FIRST PERSON | CHARLESTON, W.V. — As residents of Charleston, it has always been in the back of our minds the presence of the chemical industry and the dangers it could pose to the folks who call this city home.
A few times in the past we have been notified of chemical releases or spills that have occurred and are quickly contained by the responsible parties with the help of local and, maybe at times, federal authorities. The big names in chemicals have been here for years: Bare, Union Carbide, Dupont, Aventis and yet in all the years we have called Charleston our home, we have never had to fear drinking the water from our taps. For the most part we have responsible chemical manufactures that take their business seriously and do their best to take steps to protect the communities they are a part of. Unfortunately this spill was created by a company that obviously lacks the same obligatory feelings to their community.
As with the rest of the country over the last week we have been dealing with record low temps and at our home we have had two separate instances where our water lines have frozen solid and the pipes have burst. The second occurrence (this week) happened Wednesday when a line in our basement explode around 1 a.m. and left us a lake to deal with. Once again shut down water service to our home. After spending hours fixing water lines and finally getting water service restored for the second time, we are told that some irresponsible chemical distributor has polluted our drinking water and now we have no way to bath our children, wash our cloths, and we can’t even boil out the contaminates to have semi-useable water.
If you drive through the parking lot of any establishment that sells water, you can see folks displaying their true colors — or maybe their “humanity” — as they shovel case after case of water into the trunks of their cars with no regard for the folks that come behind them to get water for their families. As a staple of our weekly grocery visit, we make it a point to keep a supply of bottled water in our home, mostly for our visitors who prefer bottled water. We were able to purchase two cases of water late Thursday night; one went to our home and the other went to our parents’ home. For us, the major hurdle to overcome is keeping our home and children sanitary especially during cold and flu season. Our children are magnets for germs, by nature they must touch and investigate everything which puts them in contact with nearly every germ known to man. Of course the best way to combat their excessive curiosity is regularly bathing and being able to supply them with clean clothes and utensils.
We have some amazing friends and family, strong state leaders, and a never tiring National Guard that have stepped up to help make this horrible situation as manageable as possible. Hopefully within a few days we will all have clean water and resume our daily lives safely. Until then we will manage the best we can.