It has been absolutely horrible watching friends of ours suffer through a terrible incident in West Virginia the last couple days.
As in heart-wrenching, praying-for-you-and-cant-get-you-off-my-mind horrible, because they are literally WITHOUT one of the most basic things the human body needs.
Thanks to a chemical spill that has quickly turned into a state disaster, shutting down water to over 300, 000 people as of this post, there is NO WATER.
At least, there is no water you can drink, or bathe in, or fill a bottle with, or whatever. To drink the water coming out of your tap is to know you will be soon heading to the hospital with vomiting that does not stop, and no idea of the long term consequences of that decision.
Can you imagine? For some of you this is not an imagination time. You are living it. You live within the confines of this disaster and are still waiting for someone, ANYONE, to bring you water that you can drink or give to your children. I was blessed enough to be able to talk to someone named Jaime today, and get a first-person view on what their family was going through, and honestly guys, it just really brought me to the point that I could not stop praying for them. For their neighbors. And others who were just as desperate and far less prepared for this situation.
I also asked my friend Freda, who has guest posted on here before, about her two cents on what is going on. Here is what she had to say:
“At approximately 10am on Thursday January 9, 2014, local residents in Kanawha County WV began to smell licorice scents in the air. It was reported to 911 shortly thereafter. Tracking the scent was difficult, the news said. Finally, it was found to be a huge holding tank at a plant and identified as 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol. This alcohol is used to â€œfroth coalâ€ in a cleaning process, and was found to have leaked at least 5000 gallons into the local Elk River.
This was not reported to the public until after 5pm after the local water plant began to smell licorice in the TREATED water supply. The public was notified to avoid this water for anything other than sanitation and that even boiling for ingestion or hand washing is ill-advised and potentially dangerous. You can read about this chemical here in an article from the National Institute of Health:
The local Public Information Officer (PIO) is reporting to the news media and public that there is NO CHEMICAL TEST possible to detect this in any water supply, so there is no way to test for this even after clean up. However, he cautioned against panic saying that even in transport, trucks carrying this chemical on the highway are not required to carry a placard because itâ€™s not that â€œdangerous.â€ He said that part of the problem is that it is now mixed and diluted with water and chemicals in the water treatment plant and that is a secondary concern since theyâ€™re not sure how that will affect this chemical in the end product of municipal water. Therefore, theyâ€™re advising everyone to stay away from the water for now.
This breach affects at least 300,000 people in West Virginia and centers around our state capitol, which is one of our largest populated regions. Shortly after this was announced, there was a run on stores for water and supplies. Violence erupted and the police had to station officers at grocery stores and gas stations to prevent it. Some stores had patrons filling buggies and running out the door, so doors had to be blocked off. It was a clear symptom of a group that had not prepared sufficiently, particularly as we had two environmental issues on top of one another with a weather emergency being just 48 hours prior to this leak.
The more lenient estimates are that it will take 72 hours for clean up, but the PIO freely admitted that they were unsure what a â€œclean upâ€ would look like as an end product since there was no testing available to ensure this chemical was no longer in the water in the first place. A federal state of emergency was declared quickly, and water stations were set up by noon the following day in specific areas. However, you MUST have access to your own containers to carry the water home with you. There is also delivery of water in place, but it must be trucked into the state from elsewhere and that coordination takes time (including drive time for the trucks). FEMA stated the trucks carrying the water should arrive by dark tonight if all goes according to plan. This delivery must be coordinated through agencies such as FEMA and the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and distribution is carried out through these avenues.
Some of the local problems are, as always, information dissemination and clarity. The PIO is required to be the point man for all information dissemination, but weâ€™re finding that our local news media tends to â€œrepeatâ€ questions that have been asked and answered and that little GOOD information is getting distributed. That said, my local EOC is equipped to telephone the entire county at once with information, and I received the call that my municipal water was unaffected by 7pm on night one.
The PIO has stated that there are numerous chemists on site and they are trying to work toward a solution, but at this point, they canâ€™t tell the public much else. Our Congressmen have come out saying that if you DO have a stockpile of water to be sure to share with those around you until the emergency is over.
So what does this have to do with Food Storage?
Really simple, everyone. It does not, ever, hurt to have water on hand. In fact, for someone who has no access to water OTHER than that which is given to them by some other company or entitity (think tap water with no other resource nearby), then this should be your clarion wake-up call to start doing something about it.
How many people do you have in your family? For each person, make sure you have on hand, bare minimum, 2 gallons per person just for drinking. If you have children, they will drink minimally 1/2 gallon a day. Adults will drink around 1 gallon, although of course, it can be made to stretch if necessary, and they can handle it better than children can. Â So 2 gallons per person will cover up to four days in a really awful situation, with no water for cooking or bathing.
I am not sure those poor folks in West Virginia will be confident of having water delivered to them in that time frame. Thank God for the rain, as Jaime said, because it can be collected, purified, and drank. However, for our family, this has caused us to look to what holes we have in our storage, and this is one. I would encourage you to do the same. If you are wondering how in the world to keep water in storage, there are many resources online that I would recommend. I will be putting a few links at the bottom that show you how to store and treat water that has been stored, or how to use stagnant water in an emergency. We have a Berkey, which is top of the line when it comes to treating really bad water and turning it into Â drinkable water. You can find out about that right here. Â I also really like the waterbricks, as you can put almost 4 gallons in each one, and that covers water for our family, bare minimum (without cooking) for a day. They interlock and take up very little space.
Whatever works for you, just let this be your reminder to not ignore this. For the mammas that are rocking crying babies and whimpering kids today, I bet they would give just about anything to have a couple gallons of water on hand and be able to use it.
Pray for the 9 counties that are affected, and pray they contain it before it hits the Ohio River.
Blessings to you and yours,Â