BUFFALO, W.Va. -- The line moved quickly Friday morning outside the old Buffalo High School as members of Buffalo's Volunteer Fire Department and town employees packed residents' cars, trucks and vans with case after case of bottled water.
According to firefighter Shyenne Buck, the number of visitors to the water-distribution center had slackened over the past several days but picked up again Friday morning.
The area, which includes Pliny and Fraziers Bottom, had been systematically cleared to use water by West Virginia American Water between Tuesday afternoon and late Thursday, but that order was rescinded Friday morning after a fire hydrant in the town tested above 1 part per million of the coal-processing chemical "Crude MCHM" following the initial flushing, according to the water company.
The chemical spilled into the Elk River on Jan. 9 from the Freedom Industries site upstream from the water company's intake in Charleston.
"I think people are worried that they're going to run out of water, so they're coming to get more as fast as they can," Buck said.
Buck, who lives in the area, has been using her water for the past several days but said she hasn't noticed the chemical's trademark black-licorice smell or any discoloration in her water.
Debbie Carte, who lives in an apartment near the old high school, said she also had not noticed an odor with her water after the ban was lifted but is still using bottled water and will continue to do so for another month.
"I flushed the lines out like they told me to, but that's all we did," Carte said. "We didn't have an odor -- I guess because we live in an apartment and everyone did it almost at once. I just knew something would happen, so we didn't drink it."
The "do-not-use" order issued to 300,000 West Virginians in nine counties by the water company has been lifted in every zone, but many residents in the affected areas say their water still smells and tastes tainted. The company has advised residents of Buffalo, Pliny and Fraziers Bottom not to drink tap water and to limit contact with it until new tests can be administered.