Wearing the badge of honor

I have so many thoughts going through my head as we begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel with our water mess.  Most of the affected water contamination zone has been cleared to start using water again although most people still don’t trust the water enough to actually drink it.  We are definitely in that camp…we are washing with the still-smelling-like-licorice tap water but not using it for drinking, cooking or teeth-brushing.

The CDC reported that pregnant women should not drink this water even though it has been declared “safe”.  Of course, that makes everyone wonder who it is really safe for….1 year olds?  What about 5 year olds?  There is no good answer here I think but what choice do we have?  Of course, I don’t want to move as some people have threatened, but even if I did, who would buy a house in a contaminated area?  No, we will stay here and this will pass.  It prompts many questions though.

Many people are over-the-top mad and many of them are directing it at the water company but I think their anger is misdirected.  The water company is the only entity communicating to the public so they are easy to yell at.  The damn chemical tank owner is to blame here but they are no where to be found.

Someone else mentioned it first but I sort of agree…too many times in Appalachian history, we have some massive issue like this and we wear our survival of the event as a badge of honor.  “This was a terrible disaster, but we are strong people…we’ll get through.”  It’s great to persevere, but it is a real shame that we have to…It’s not just here in WV either of course.  In my home town in PA, gas fracking is poisoning the ground as non-local companies pump thousands of gallons of chemicals into the earth, find their gas and leave town.  Locals are stuck living with the long term repercussions.  It’s a tragedy really but one that they wear as a badge of honor there as well.

I guess this badge of honor isn’t unique to Appalachia…maybe it is common to rural dwellers, the poor or just anyone who can’t fight back.  It makes me sad and mad that the human condition is, and perhaps always has been, one of simply surviving atrocity after atrocity.  Truly, this disaster has not been the disaster it could have been if a more horrible chemical had leaked, but dumb luck doesn’t really make me feel better.

It IS a sad condition and a shame to wear this disaster as a badge of honor but most here will do just that.  I suppose I will too as I don’t really see any other option.  We’re a tough people though…we’ll get through it…

8 thoughts on “Wearing the badge of honor

  1. It’s a God awful shame that so many dangerous chemicals are used or stored so close to our nations waterways. What are the zoning directors thinking to allow such potential disasters to be built in the first place? Politics. And where do politicians make the first cuts when budgets need cutting? In the peoples safety programs. Fewer and fewer inspectors for public safety, sanitation, and health, firemen, policemen, etc. How many politicians lose their jobs or have to take a pay cut because of budget cuts? Not wanting to downplay the seriousness of the situation or the danger to you and your family, but I think you were fortunate that it happened in the state capital instead of a poor country setting. Help got to you quickly. I shudder to think of what would happen if the same situation happened here. Wishing you all the best and my prayers are with you and everyone afflicted by this mess.

  2. You are right…we are more fortunate than if this had happened in a rural area. We have plenty of lawyers here and politicians too so that keeps attention here more focused.

    I am amazed that even as this is happening, people are still supporting politicians who want to reduce or eliminate the EPA, regulations, enforcement, etc. This will happen all over with some other poor town, maybe even here. Carelessness and outright neglect already exist, even with regulation. It makes me sick honestly to think of what we are doing to ourselves

  3. I am so mad at this water crisis! It is so scary reading what all is happening to people. I hated sending my kids to school today. I knew my daughter’s school was safe because her school is on city water but my son’s school has the contaminated water. I sent him wipes and hand sanitizer. He took his own water bottle. He said they gave everyone at school a water bottle and that water bottles were stacked up in the hallway. They have hand sanitizer outside the bathrooms. Only a note on the water fountain for them to not drink the water. I’d feel safer if they put a trash bag over it. I really got mad when they sent Buffalo students home after they found out their water wasn’t safe again. I’m reading everything I can to learn more about this to try to protect my family but it is hard when they won’t listen. Thankfully we have well water so our house is safe but my mom and sister have the contaminated water. Mom said it burned her hand when she used it. She’s back to using her bottled water. It’s a mess. I’m so worried about people getting cancer from this. You don’t ever want to hear the words you have cancer! Been there and done that! Don’t want to ever hear that again! Don’t use the water for at least 2 more weeks!

  4. I hear you Angela. We are not drinking for now and will send the kids with water for school. I doubt anyone washes their hands much there anyhow so that’s not a huge concern I guess, but drinking is. I don’t know what to make of all of this still but there are few options long term other than to just go for it, bathing wise. I can drink bottled water and brush teeth with bottled water but bathing is the problem…

  5. Warren, I’ve been following this story and wonder how businesses are managing—including schools, that prepare food? You can’t wash dishes or boil 100 pounds of potatoes with bottled water.
    The whole thing is just awful. It certainly makes everyone understand how we take clean water for granted. I know I do. Prayers for everyone as they work through this. So scary.

  6. You are right…many businesses are screwed. Some are changing recipes or how they do things to manage with bottled water. Some are buying the official word that the water is safe. Schools have been out ever since but return tomorrow (supposed to be today but we are snowed under). They are providing bottled water until the end of the week but after that, they are using tap. Not sure what we will do. Mostly the licorice smell is gone from taps I have smelled but who knows if there is residual, other chems, etc. It’s a huge mess and an unfortunate science experiment

  7. Granny – The water at our house no longer smells. As I understand the readings, the hydrants near us are testing very low concentrations of the chemical but not yet 0. We started bathing and washing when we could no longer smell the chemical but we are not yet drinking, cooking or brushing our teeth with it. If I had better options, we wouldn’t use it at all until it tested 0 but it just isn’t feasible and without the smell, the concentration is pretty low. I am still not satisfied because in this case, we got lucky. If this had been a really really bad chemical we would be screwed. The solution is “just wait until we run enough water through the system to dilute/flush the chem out” THat’s no solution…well, it is but not really. I don’t really blame the water company and they have no other viable solution but the whole situation is just a mess. Still mad in WV…

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