Posted: Jan 10, 2014 7:15 AM by John Raby
CHARLESTON, WV - Schools and businesses closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and legislators canceled business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston affected about 300,000 people and shut down much of the city and surrounding counties.
The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster. In requesting the federal disaster declaration, state officials said about 100,000 customers, or roughly 300,000 people total, were affected.
After the Thursday spill, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ordered customers of West Virginia American Water not to drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
The state National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties.
The cause and extent of the spill remain unclear. Officials say the orders were issued as a precaution.