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Group Calls On Tomblin To Restore Declaration Of Emergency, Continue Bottle Water Distribution

Reported: Mar. 14, 2014 10:50 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 14, 2014 11:15 PM EDT

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - Clean drinking water was still available Friday, if you needed it.

There was also a call for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to reinstate the state of emergency,nine weeks after the spill. The environmental group Mountain Justice, along with a group of of spring breakers, gave out the free water and they hope Tomblin will put the state of emergency back in place, so people in all nine counties affected can still get clean, safe drinking water.

There were gallons by the handful being carried along the river.

"Free water!" member of the group cheered.

They had plenty to give out along Kanawha Boulevard, with horns honking, right in front of the Governor’s mansion.

"If the Governor won't provide drinking water for them, we will!," Dee Steele, with Mountain Justice, said.

The group also gave out water at the New Covenant Baptist Church in Charleston.

"There are people outside of West Virginia, many of us, who care about West Virginia and will always care about West Virginia,” Caitlin Myers, with Mountain Justice, said. “You're not alone!"

Mountain Justice and people from several states, some from as far away as California, pitched-in.

"It's just been a godsend,” Kathy Ferguson of Institute said. ”I really appreciate all the love and the outpouring."

Ferguson was surprised to learn many of the volunteers were college students who put their spring break at the beaches on hold and, instead, chose to put their money into the collaborative service project.

"I really appreciate it,” Ferguson said with a big smile. “My father and I both do. He's not able to get around as much as he used to, so he's kind of been dependent on me, and we're down to our last jugs of water."

Constantly buying fresh water can really add-up, but now, for some people, it’s a must-have every day.

"I used to scoff and poo-poo people who drank bottled water,” Ferguson said, laughing. “But now I'm like, ‘Give me bottled water all day long!"

Steele said the group was putting a moral obligation on Tomblin.

“To reinstate the state of emergency, so people can get aid," she said.

Tomblin lifted the State Of Emergency two weeks ago, and the Centers for Disease Control stated West Virginia water is safe to drink, but not everyone is convinced yet.
"I don't trust them and I don’t trust what's in the water,” Ferguson said. “It'll be a little while before I get back to really appreciating the water here like I used to!"
The group hopes the Tomblin will meet with communities one on one, so he can hear for himself how people are still struggling to get clean water in the wake of the crisis.

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