Chester groups send aid south

CHESTER – A truck bound for Charleston from Chester is bringing relief supplies to those West Virginians who still are without clean tap water nearly a week into the chemical spill emergency.

The U-Haul truck, rented by the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, Chester Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6450 and American Legion Posts 121 (Chester) and 114 (Newell), is transporting plates, plastic silverware, napkins, body wipes, bottled water and microwaveable food to the people of Dunbar, W.Va., near Charleston, said Chester fire Chief John Hissam.

Hissam said the American Legion district commander in Dunbar called him on Monday asking for help, and Hancock County veterans and volunteer firefighters “jumped right on it.”

“It’s just a helping hand to get them through the next three or four days,” he said.

The spill from a Freedom Industries storage tank into the Elk River on Thursday led to a “do not use” order for some 300,000 water customers in Charleston and parts of the surrounding eight counties in the Kanawha Valley in central West Virginia.

West Virginia American Water finally lifted the “do not use” order for central Charleston on Monday afternoon and continued to lift the ban for surrounding zones throughout Tuesday. But Dunbar and other areas may be without tap water for another two or three days, Hissam said.

With nearly $2,000 in donations from the American Legion and VFW posts, the Sons of the American Legion, and individuals, officials went shopping at the Sam’s Club in Robinson Township, Pa., Hissam said. The store also donated $100 worth of goods, he said.

A truck laden with supplies left Chester on Tuesday and planned to make stops along the way – in Newell, New Cumberland, Weirton, Follansbee – to pick up more items.

“The truck’ll be full by the time it gets down there,” Hissam said.