CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said the water crisis has hurt businesses, non-profits and even state government. That’s why he’s appealed to FEMA and the Small Business Administration to give West Virginia a hand.
The January 9 chemical spill at Freedom Industries into the Elk River in Charleston impacted more than 100,000 West Virginia American Water Company customers.
Tomblin said restaurants were hardest hit. They couldn’t reopen until they had a non-contaminated source of water. He urged the SBA to come up with alternative funding sources.
“We need to get approval so that loans will be available for them and grants to help them out. Obviously, maybe they could do more then to help out their employees who have lost wages during this period,” according to the governor.
He said the state could also use a helping hand from FEMA.
“We’ve spent a lot of state money making sure that people have water. [Water] testing has been very expensive,” stated Tomblin.
He said the West Virginia National Guard has been part of a team checking the water quality in towns from Charleston to Culloden, for MCHM and PPH. Reimbursing that money would lift a financial burden off a state that’s already cut back its budget.
As for more shipments of water, Tomblin doesn’t believe FEMA will be sending any additional trucks. He said now that the crisis is over and the water approved for consumption, people are starting to find confidence in their taps.
The federal government and state provided more than 11-million bottles of water to Kanawha County alone during the crisis. Tomblin estimated more than 20-million bottles were handed out in the nine-county area impacted by the crisis over 11 days.