State Steps In To Help Community With Water Woes

Officials say the ongoing water emergency situation in Letcher County might last longer than expected. Now, the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is stepping in to help.

City and county officials say they are now looking in to more long-range plans when it comes to solving the City of Whitesburg's water contamination problem.

State Emergency Management officials set up an Emergency Operation Center on Wednesday morning.

It is still unclear how long it will take to rid the City of Whitesburg's water system of petroleum.

“We have no idea at this point, how long, it could be a week, it could be two weeks, it could be longer,” said Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward.

Officials with the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management are helping local officials with planning.

“We have brought two state people in to assist the local emergency manager with getting his emergency operation center open,” said Larry Dixon with the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management.

“When we opened the emergency management's office, when the state came in to assist us this morning, that is for long term planning, for such as getting water in,” said Ward.

One plan is to pump in water above the contamination point, but Judge Executive Ward says all options have to be approved from the Division of Water.

“We're still waiting on some samples to come back from the clean water source. We have to check that before we are able to implement any plans,” said Ward.

In the meantime, area businesses, including Wal-Mart and Save-A-Lot are stepping in to help.

“It's for the people in Whitesburg that need water. We invite them to come on down. We'll be distributing the water free of charge,” said Sharon Daughtery, Supervisor for the Save-A-Lot in Whitesburg.

“We really don't know, still don't know at this time what it's going to take to clean our system up, to clean the plant up,” said Ward.

He says for now, it is just a waiting game.

Officials are reminding all Whitesburg water customers to follow safety procedures.

Classes are canceled for the rest of the week for schools in the Letcher County School system.

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