Day Four

The little blue “dot” is how far we’ve come in four days. 
Januarary 13, 2014 @ 6PM.  

After four days without potable water in the neighborhood, it was worth every penny we spent to get a shower and do the laundry. Unfortunately, we had to drive eighty miles (round trip) to achieve the goal of cleanliness and civility. We spent the night in the closest town we could find with a hotel and a nearby laundry.

Today is the fourth day without water for nearly 300,000 people in the immediate area of Charleston.

Our dog traveled with us on this trip. To him it was like going to an amusement park but to us it was something quite different. When we arrived in the town of Barboursville, the 24 hour laundromat was “overwhelmed” with people from Charleston, who were doing like us, and making the best of a bad situation.

In addition to my dual band HT, I took my “tablet” with me which I found very useful. I keep an app (IARL) on it which shows all the ham repeaters which are centered on my “current” location. The map features were very useful too. I also carry a small SWL (Tecsun PL-380) radio with me which is really nice for hearing foreign broadcast and local AM and FM broadcasts.

We drove back early this morning, spent most of the day with friends, and this evening, happily, we got the “OK” to start flushing out the water lines in our home.

This amounted to depleting all the hot water from our water tank for 15 minutes, and running the cold water for an additional 5 minutes. Then we ran both the washing machine and the dishwasher for a complete cycle with clean water.

The water company is going to debit us for 1,000 gallons on the next billing cycle. 

I can’t express how happy I am to again use something (H2O) most people in the world take so much for granted. Contamination levels are now tolerable in the small area where I live. We live the closest to the immediate spill. Three hospitals, the largest shopping mall, and the state capitol are in this area.

As you can see in the above picture, there’s still a large area which needs to be flushed with clean water. Only then can the process of household purging begin. For us this trial has finally ended; but it will take even longer for the entire area to finally be purged of this coal cleaning compound.

I’ve always been a strong advocate for clean water, clean air, and a clean environment in this state. I’ve known for years the dangers of depleting our natural resources. This state, and I might add, this entire tri-state area, has an ugly history of human and environmental catastrophes. I can’t imagine the amount of water than has been wasted in this event.

Fortunately this latest catastrophe only caused an inconvenience for most (not all) of these 300,000 people. We’re on the way to recovery now, but not entirely there yet!

John Smithson, Jr., N8ZYA, is a regular contributor to and writes from West Virginia, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

5 Responses to “Day Four”

  • Jan DK3LJ:

    This is a nightmare. One can just imagine how desperate things could get if there was no water truck or working car to drive out of town with (or communication for that matter).

    Hang in there John!

  • John N8ZYA:

    Yes it is…..the elderly, young nursing mothers, and those without transportation (in the US this means the poor) are in a terrible situation. Most schools and day care facilities are still closed. We’re approaching day five now.

    We’re finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel; but it’s a long twisted tunnel with a few crooks in it. The owner is a two time convicted felon. This facility was last inspected by the Dept of Environmental Protection in 1991.

    Need I say more?

  • Mike KG9DW:

    John, thank you for sharing your experiences. I’ve been following the news, and your first hand accounts have been interesting. As much as I laugh at the preppers out there, this was an incredible situation that few were prepared for. Having supported emergency agencies during other disasters, water, sewer, and electricity are the three main utilities that are very hard for us to live without. People in the 21st century are just not prepared to handle such circumstances.

  • Chuck Heath, K6ZIZ:

    Unlike most Americans, we live off-grid, meaning we are our own electric, water and sewage disposal company. This is our 25th year of doing so and we enjoy the self-sustainability. Our home is remote – 2 miles from any power or telephone lines, yet we enjoy high-speed wireless Internet and other “modern” conveniences. For us, energy independence is important. Our elevation allows 100+ mile VHF contacts on a daily basis, so battery-powered communications is never a problem. The solar-powered system “runs the ranch” with generator backup.

    We pray those with that polluted water will quickly recover from this nightmare. I cannot imagine what they’re going through!

    Cordially & 73, Chuck Heath, K6ZIZ

  • john mann KK4ITN:

    Back here in Charlotte, NC we see yout plight on the local news without much news of the type or name of the chemical.
    Who is responsible or who is taking responsibility for this.
    Could you let know?

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