The OMD Board and Staff request on behalf of the UU Congregation in Charleston, WV for congregations to please take up a special offering, Share the Plate, or announce the need for donations to assist in supporting those affected by the Freedom Industries Chemical Spill in Charleston, first detected January 9.
The UU Congregation in Charleston has been a focal point for donations to provide direct aid to service industry workers who are suffering the impacts of the closure of restaurants. Additionally, the congregation is working with the United Way and business and union groups to have an area wide fund campaign for help with water and utility bill payments. Folks are now paying both for tap water they aren’t sure is safe to drink, cook with or bathe in; so they many are also purchasing bottled water. Pregnant women have been told not to drink the water at all. Not all can afford bottled water. Even the WV American Water Company’s process for flushing the system in one’s home increases the water usage bill.
While the initial spill was thought to be cleaned up, it has now been discovered that a second chemical was involved and further testing and clean up will be necessary for that chemical. Initially, trucks carrying water in bulk (some filled with contaminated water!) as well as in bottles came to various sites. There are now only four sites in the county that remain open with bottled water. Anyone without a car or with mobility issues has difficulty reaching these sites that will soon be closed. After this weekend, it is not clear how safe water will be made available for those in need. Those who can afford it will purchase bottled water. Others will be forced to use their tap water unless help for purchasing water is available.
The impact of the spill is ongoing. It is uncertain when the water will be deemed safe to drink and use again.
The Charleston congregation is committed to using your donations well; and thank you for your care and support.
Checks should be made out to: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charleston (UUC) with the notation “Water Relief.”
Please mail to:
UU Congregation of Charleston
520 Kanawha Blvd W.
Charleston, WV 25302
Thank you for your support and consideration
Joan Van Becelaere, OMD District Executive and CERG Regional Lead