SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Kanawha County’s water distribution sites were swamped with people from all across the region who were there to fill up on potable water.
The chemical leak impacting more than 100,000 West Virginia American Water Company customers, left many with not a drop of water to spare when it came to drinking, cooking, washing hands or taking a bath.
Kanawha County opened up seven distribution sites: the Crossings Mall in Elkview, Riverside High School in Quincy, West Virginia State University in Institute, the Glasgow Fire Department, the East Bank Volunteer Fire Department, Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Sissonville and the South Charleston Rec Center.
Lee Harris, who lives in South Charleston, was one of the first to arrive.
“I live by myself and I thought I’d just get a case of water and that would do me,” he said.
Cpt. Robert Cohernour, with the South Charleston Fire Department, was in charge of the site at the rec center. He said they started out with a tractor trailer filled with pallets of bottled water.
“We’re handing out water one case per car until we get a better supply of water,” explained Cohernour.
Also set up on site was a water buffalo where people could bring their own containers and fill them up.
Chris Little, who lives in Lincoln County, works for Kanawha County Senior Services. She assists two elderly couple who are without water. She came to get water enough for both.
“They’re saying I can only get one case. So…that’s what I’m going to get and I’m going to go up here and fill up some containers,” said Little.
People waited in line with containers in hand.
“This will be my drinking water,” said Bucky Spaulding of South Charleston, pointing to her container. “This is a Rhino Pack 5.5 gallon.”
Sue Hawkenberry, of South Charleston, stood in line with about a dozen others at the water buffalo.
“I’m going to get these two little containers which will be about a little over a gallon to drink and the bare necessities,” she stressed.
Just behind her in line was Laura Poore of South Charleston who was filling up for more than one.
“I have a couple bottles of water left over. We’re just trying to share some with our neighbors,” she explained.
Mark Walker, of South Charleston said he’s not too concerned, at least for now.
“Just take it hour by hour.”
With no end in sight, many are wondering how they’ll manage daily life with just a few containers of potable water.