This is why Preparedness is so important: 480,000 West Virginia residents are being told not to drink tap water after the local water supply was contaminated with dangerous chemicals.
Almost a quarter of West Virginia’s residents have been warned not to drink, cook, or even wash their hands with tap water, after a 48,000-gallon chemical storage tank filled with 4-methylcyclohexene methanol, a chemical used in a coal-washing process, leaked into the local water supply. Officials are warning that the chemical is hazardous and could cause severe burning in the throat, vomiting and skin blistering.
On Thursday evening, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for nine counties in West Virginia, affecting some 480,000 residents.
“Right now, our priorities are our hospitals, nursing homes and schools,” the governor said. “I’ve been working with our National Guard and Office of Emergency Services in an effort to provide water and supplies through the county emergency services offices as quickly as possible.”
Shortly after, Federal officials declared a State of Emergency, but so far nobody is saying how long it will take before the water supply is safe to use again.
The local water authority, West Virginia American Water, is working with DuPont and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine the level of contamination, but as of yet nobody has come up with a concrete timeline for when the water supply will be restored. In fact, there doesn’t even seem to be a clear plan on how to fix the situation.
Meanwhile, FEMA has dispatched 75 trucks – each carrying 18,500 liters of water – that will start arriving in Charleston early this evening. But with so many people being affected, this will do very little to meet the residents actual needs.
Without a real timeline in place, people are really starting to panic. Residents have stormed grocery stores, gas stations and anywhere selling water, completely depleting the State’s supply of bottled water. If things don’t turn around quickly, the situation could get very ugly.