Thousands Of People Are Without Drinking Water

By: Matt Barbour Email
By: Matt Barbour Email

Thousands of people are without safe drinking water after petroleum spilled into the water supply for Whitesburg and several other Letcher County communities.

With nearly 4,000 people affected, local officials declared a state of emergency for the city of Whitesburg and ordered people not to use the water.

They say Whitesburg water customers first started calling in on Saturday, complaining the water smelled like gasoline.

County officials traced the leak to a nearby bulk plant.

Now they are waiting on test results from the state, to see when the water will be safe.

“We walked the river and found the source and have blocked it off so we are hoping it might stop the leaching into the water. And from there we just have to see what the state tells us to do,” Mayor James Wiley Craft said.

In the meantime, county and city officials are distributing fresh water at three locations, Whitesburg customers can go to the Colson Fire Department, recycling center, or City Hall.

Depending on test results, local officials say the situation can last up to one week.

The areas affected by the water contamination include, Whitesburg, Whitco, Cowan, Ermine, Craft Colley, Mayking, Sandlick, Deane, Thornton, Campbranch, Dry Fork and Uz.

Customers on the Blackey, Neon and Jenkins water systems are NOT affected.


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  • by someone concerned about our health on Nov 4, 2008 at 06:02 PM
    I did not know the water was contaminated until I was already exposed to it. By then it was too late. What signs and symptoms should we watch for when it comes to our health for those of us who have bathed in it and consumed it?
  • by Anonymous on Nov 4, 2008 at 06:02 PM
    I UNDERSTAND THIS MUST BE HARD FOR EVERYONE BUT YOU ALL HAVE TO LOOK AT ALL THE PPL THAT IS WORKING AROUND THE CLOCK THESE PPL HAVE FAMILY'S ALSO BUT THEY ARE WORKING HARD TO GET WATER AND WHAT YOU NEED TO YOU , I FEEL SORRY FOR EVERYONE ! INCLUDING WORKERS THAT ARE OUT TRYING TO MAKE SURE PPL HAVE WHAT THEY NEED AND I AM SURE THIS WILL BE TAKEN CARE OF AS SOON AS THEY CAN !
  • by Someone Who Cares on Nov 4, 2008 at 04:32 PM
    I really feel for the the citizens affected by this I agree with the comment about calling Judge Thompsom It wasnt the counties water it was the city of Hindman and the workers for the city and help from the national guard I remember seeing city workers working around the clock and still working there system I feel because they are working for the same company as the City of Hindman that they to are putting in the same effort as they did for Knott County.
  • by anonymous Location: whitesburg on Nov 4, 2008 at 01:15 PM
    IF THIS HAPPENED ON SATURDAY WHY DID WE NOT FIND OUT UNTIL MONDAY WHEN WE TOOK OUR KIDS TO SCHOOL? BY THIS POINT WE'VE ALREADY BATHED IN IT AND BRUSHED OUR TEETH. I LIVE IN CITY LIMITS AND I THINK WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS HAPPENS THEY SHOULD HAVE TO GO DOOR TO DOOR AND TELL PEOPLE. WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO ABOUT BATHING AND DOING LAUNDRY ALL MY FAMILY HAS THE SAME WATER SOURCE? IF IT'S GONNA BE ANOTHER WEEK BEFORE IT'S FIXED I THINK SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE TO PAY OUR WATER BILL FOR THE MONTH AND REIMBURSE US FOR THE EXTRA WATER WE HAVE TO BUY.
  • by AC Location: Kentucky on Nov 4, 2008 at 01:01 PM
    EPA Federal Hotline 1-800-424-8802 Hazard EPA Office 606-435-6022 Ring these numbers off the hook. They are the federal numbers for reporting water contaminants. Keep calling, they have to report it.
  • by Bo Location: Hindman on Nov 4, 2008 at 12:54 PM
    I heard on the Radio early today that Jim Ward Letcher Counties Judge was going too call Knott Counties Judge Randy Thompsom and ask him about how he handle his State of emergenies a few years earlier.Little does the public know that the County took all the credit for solving the problem but the county had no part in the hard work, long hours and detication it took to see the job throught. It was the city that done all the work too keep their customers in water and they never complained not once. I know becauce I myself have thanked them personally myself! I just hope that the customers of Letcher Co. don't blame the people at the water treatment plant . Blame the owner of the bulk faculity.
  • by Upset Citizen Location: LETCHER COUNTY on Nov 4, 2008 at 11:39 AM
    The County is still waiting on test results from the state, to see when the water will be safe. They did call off school for one day(Wednesday)...I noticed where they are at the river working behind wal mart..one would think that the city & county elected officials would try to get someone in here to help with this water crisis...call in the red cross or do something besides giving each household 3 gallons of water WOW!
  • by jo Location: whitesburg on Nov 4, 2008 at 10:55 AM
    why has no one reported what chemicals are in the water
  • by Nicole Location: whitesburg on Nov 4, 2008 at 09:37 AM
    This is horrible I have three kids and a husband who works in the coal mines and we cant even shower here we have to go to family members houses to shower I have to use bottled water to wash bottles and dishes.. They should find the one responsible for this.. We will end up having to go to hazard or Va. to get water because our walmart is almost out!
  • by me on Nov 4, 2008 at 09:30 AM
    why dont they use the national guard? they have the resources to help with this..
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