A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices


Wary and Waiting

By Karen Smith Zornes

I didn’t have a problem with the spill at first; I thought, “Accidents happen.” But when it came time for us to flush, I had an asthma attack from the smell. I went outside for fresh air and tried to flush again later — and had another asthma attack. After our flush, our water still looked blue and still had the smell. So I waited for three days after the flush to shower, and got a skin rash from the water.

After that I called the water company. The man at West Virginia American Water told me the strong smell meant the water was safe to use. I told him about my blisters, and he said it was probably my shampoo, though I’ve used the same shampoo for years. I asked him about the water discoloration, and he said I must have spilled something in it. He made me feel like an idiot. He told me to keep flushing my lines and that someone would be out to test my water. Four days have passed, and we haven’t heard anything.

We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on new filters for the fridge and the home, bottled water, and gas to drive to get water and supplies. We’re spending money we don’t have. The money we’ve spent on water was supposed to pay my electric bill.

Being a three-time cancer survivor makes me wary about the long-term effects of this. I don’t think the customers should be the ones to pick up the bill for this disaster.

Karen Smith Zornes is a concerned citizen living in Boone County, W.Va.