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.

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  • Steven

    Just checking. We do realize FEMA money comes from us taxpayers…right?

  • Hillboy

    A basic principle of West Virginia state government for as long as I can remember is that environmental regulation is bad for business therefore West Virginia will keep environmental regulation to the barest possible minimum. In some cases, the minimum apparently is no regulation whatsoever.

    I find it ironic that the governor is now begging for money to help out businesses affected by the spill. It would be encouraging if our governor learned from this incident that some basic level of environmental regulation is necessary to protect our economy, not to mention public health. I've lived here too long to be hopeful about that unfortunately.

    I do hope ERT is able to find some funding to help out small businesses hurt by closures due to the spill---they do deserve some help. It should not have been necessary though.

  • TheFungoKnows

    The water is STILL not fit to drink or use.
    It still has an offensive odor. The ice has the odor.
    Do not drink this water. Do not use ice made from this water.
    It will make you sick.

  • Jodi Koberinski

    I got a great idea: the company who profitted from these chemicals ought to also be responsible for he liabilities associated witht hat money making activity.... oh, right, its the US of A... so that company filed for bankrupcty and was loaned money by a new company owned by... the same guy who owns Freedom Industries. Freesom Industries should be paying for this clean up not FEMA. How about their customers who also benefitted from no regulation? Proviatize the profits, socialize the liabilities and risks.... nice one.

  • hilljack

    They should dissolve Freedom and take every last cent to pay for clean up and reimbursement instead of letting them slither out with bankruptcy and a golden parachute.