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Learning To Live Without Water, Residents Help Each Other

Reported: Jan. 10, 2014 9:24 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 11, 2014 8:37 AM EST

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Katy Brown) -- People waking up Friday morning probably found getting ready for work a little trickier than normal. But with a little help from family and neighbors, West Virginians are finding ways to pull through.

"It just amazes me how much has changed over the course of the last 24 hours," Greg Skinner, who lives on Charleston's East End, said.

Just one day after a chemical spill at Freedom Industries, and life for people in several counties has changed.

West Virginia American Water customers in parts of nine counties were put under a "Do Not Use Water" advisory after Crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River and contaminated the tap water.

This means simple things like showering, brushing your teeth and washing dishes, which usually meant just turning on the water, have been put on hold.

Mary Harrah lives next door to the Freedom Industries plant. She said she's lived in that house for more than 40 years and has never seen anything like this chemical leak.

Harrah said early Thursday morning she could smell the distinct licorice odor associated with the chemical MCHM.

And on Friday, Harrah said it's still in her home. She said it's not only in the air, but the water too.

"We have to go out and buy our water we can't use our water for nothing," Harrah said. "You know I can't do anything."

Lauren Thomas's mother lives on Charleston's East End. She and her husband drove from Virginia to make sure Thomas's family was taken care of.

"We found out about the water crisis so we just brought a bunch of water up to them," Thomas said. "About 30 gallons or so."

With no timeline in sight on when the water advisory will be lifted, patience is key.

Greg Skinner of Charleston advised to "use your water sparingly." While Thomas says to "try to keep calm and hopefully they'll get it figured out soon."

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