PUTTING aside for now the obvious questions for Freedom Industries and West Virginia American Water Company about potential steps they could have taken to prevent the great water crisis of 2014, the overall response by the water company, state and local officials, and the community has been remarkable.
While the area experienced a bit of panic in the first few hours after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and water company officials announced a "Do Not Use" order late Thursday afternoon, it wasn't long before officials announced that truckloads of water were on the way.
As promised, truckloads began arriving early Friday.
The West Virginia Air National Guard's 130th Airlift Wing was among the first, hauling in 51 tractor-trailers loaded with water from a Federal Emergency Management Agency center in Maryland. Churches, schools and community centers set up distribution sites to get drinkable water to the people.
And the flow hasn't stopped. Not just bottled water, but tankers of potable water that residents can use to fill containers are available at several dozens of water distribution locations.
County government, state government, FEMA, cities across the state, caring volunteers, businesses in the region and more have come together to make sure none of the 300,000 residents affected in nine counties affected by the water crisis order had to go without.
The city of St. Albans, which has its own water treatment plant on the Coal River unaffected by the chemical spill, made its water supplies available, and churches in that city offered lunches and free showers. St. Albans restaurants, the only ones in the area allowed to be open, flourished.
The list goes on of businesses, nonprofits and other organizations who have stepped into help.
An inconvenience for everyone? Sure. But thanks to an experienced emergency planning team led by Gov. Tomblin and the state's Homeland Security office and hard working efforts of many employees and volunteers, and the good will of our area's neighbors, drinkable water is available to all.
It seems the only organization without a good response was Freedom Industries, the company that operates the tank system that leaked the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River.
In the aftermath, questions must be answered and people held accountable.
But for now, people in the affected area are not thirsty or sick from the water, or lack thereof. And for that, we should all be very grateful.