Jesse Richardson speaks about the difficulty of caring for a small child during the West Virginia Water Crisis, as well as her frustration that she bathed, fed, and gave her child contaminated water before the public was informed of the chemical spill.
My husband & I own Winfield Quick Stop, a Sunoco gas station in Putnam County, WV. Thursday evening we were out eating dinner when one of our employees called to tell us there was a chemical spill that had affected the water and that customers had been telling her not to use the water. I immediately checked the news on my phone to confirm, but WOWK reported the chemical was non-toxic. So I thought it was no big deal. I called our employee back to let her know not to worry, but she then informed me that WV was in a state of emergency. Once I googled that search term, I found out it was true. We had to stop all sales related to our water supply at the store, including coffee, cappuccino, and soft drinks.
Our next concern was how to get water deliveries to serve the customers needs. We have good relations with our vendors so we started by contacting our Pepsi & Coke drivers to bring extra water in their deliveries. On Friday morning I called one of our wholesalers, Ashland Specialty in Kentucky, to get water deliveries. They weren’t able to make extra deliveries, so my husband Tim made 3 trips to Ashland, Kentucky (a one hour drive from Winfield) in our personal vehicle to get water for our customers. I believe we made a good decision to do this. Otherwise, many of the people in our community would have been left without water for hours. My immediate family is lucky in one way because our home is in Mason County, one of the unaffected areas. We told our employees they are welcome to come to our home for showers.
I still can’t understand how we could be in such a terrible situation with a chemical spill that was not reported for hours. The people of WV should have been alerted much sooner. We are still waiting for our President to acknowledge our neglected state in a press conference. If they could tie this to terrorism the national news media would be all over this. We need a solution. No one in the news is talking about how badly this disaster is going to hurt the area’s economy. We are at a stand still. Businesses, schools, and local government are all affected. One of our local friends owns a restaurant and anticipates losing $20,000 this weekend if the water isn’t usable. This is enough to shut a small business down.