MANY residents of the Charleston area are feeling smacked around the last couple of weeks. With the leak of more than 6,000 gallons of Crude MCHM from Freedom Industries tanks contaminating the area's water supply, the resulting "do-not-use" order, closure of restaurants and hotels and continued questions of the water's safety, uncertainty reigns.
Some wonder about the effect this problem will have on Charleston and the surrounding area.
"The damage that has been done to this community will affect us in a negative way for the rest of my life," said Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.
Not necessarily. The negative impact will be with the area for a long time only if area leaders and residents let the incident overshadow our area's many positives. Charleston area residents must believe in and promote their community stronger than ever as the recovery from the Great Water Crisis of 2014 continues.
Things will get better. Questions will get answered. Stronger new water regulations are likely to be implemented. Responsible businesses will update their crisis prevention plans. Citizens will be more vigilant.
Many people and organizations outside of our area are watching to see how well we respond. Will the Charleston area be a place other businesses want to invest in after this crisis? Will West Virginia be a better or worse place in which to live as a result?
Citizens, leaders and business people need to reassess, pick up, and help the area move forward and remember the millions of dollars of new investment made in the area recently.
Owners of the Four Points Sheraton Hotel recently finished a $15 million renovation to finally make the former Charleston House the grand full-service hotel that the riverfront deserves.
The Charleston Town Center completed a $7 million renovation in time to celebrate the beautiful downtown mall's 30th anniversary. The Charleston Marriott finished an $8 million renovation in time for that building's 30th anniversary.
Later this year, a new Courtyard by Marriott on Kanawha Boulevard, adjacent to the Elk River, will be finished. Charleston is working on plans to renovate its Civic Center.
In South Charleston, the old stamping plant is back in operation with automotive parts maker Gestamp investing $100 million and employing hundreds.
The Charleston area needs to continue its renaissance. There are too many good things going on to let the water crisis drown it.