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City Of Charleston Takes First Step To Sue After Water Crisis

Reported: Jan. 21, 2014 10:35 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 22, 2014 9:58 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- The city of Charleston taking the first step to file a lawsuit in wake of the water crisis. City council members agreed Tuesday to start looking at law firms to represent the city.

Mayor Danny Jones said the city has suffered serious damage because of the water crisis and it goes far beyond the estimated $121,000 of lost tax revenue businesses didn't generate when they were forced to close because they didn't have water.

"The damage that's been done to this city's incalculable," Jones said.

Charleston's mayor is frustrated that so many businesses and families across the area lost money because of a chemical leak that left water unusable for days. But what angers him more is the long term damage he believes communities, including the city of Charleston, will suffer from the ability to attract visitors to new businesses.

"It will hurt me personally when I go out to recruit groups to come here. That will be used against us, and I have to deal with that," Jones said.

That is why Jones thinks the city should file a lawsuit to help recover some of the money lost and damage to its reputation. Who the city will sue and for how much haven't been decided. But it seems Jones has support from the community.

Eyewitness News asked people whether they think the city should file a lawsuit on behalf of people who lost money in the water crisis.

"Absolutely. It affected the economy, the community and the surrounding areas, and I'm all for a lawsuit," Jackie Rogers-Miller of Charleston said.

"It just makes us look sad, and we're better than that. So they need to get on top of it fast," Zach Cochran of Charleston said.

"A lot of people lost their money because of the water situation so I feel they should be paid because a lot of businesses lost a lot of money, need money, and people that were scheduled to work have bills and stuff to pay, so I think Charleston really should sue for real," Simone Anderson of Charleston said.

As for the cost of the city pursuing legal action to make up for what its lost, Eyewitness News asked whether a lawsuit is the best use of city money at this point.

Jones said the city will not put up any money and will have firms hired on contingency.

"We're going to retain council and see if we can recoup some of the damages," the mayor said.

Meanwhile, area businesses are also working together to make up for losses suffered during the water crisis. East End Main Street has teamed up with 50 businesses across the district.

The effort is called "Rehydrate: getting back to business after the "Aquapocalypse."

From now until the end of the month, dozens of small businesses are holding specials and promotions to encourage you to shop local and get the economy back on track in Charleston. You can find additional information
here

In addition, council declared Jan 27-Feb 1 as "Eat Local Week" to help businesses recoup losses suffered during the water crisis.



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