Charleston effectively shut down as restaurants and any stores that serve food had to close their doors by order of the health department. Employees lost their meager wages due to no customers. No customers equals no tips. For people who live day to day, this is a devastating situation, especially since they have no way to purchase water with no income.
While I feel bad for Red Lobster not having any customers, for locally owned eateries this is especially crushing. Local businesses and the companies and employees that depend on them had no income for over five days. The economic impact of this situation will be felt for a long time and may change the landscape of independent business for years to come.
I am concerned even more for the environmental impact this will have on the communities and families in the area. Those that have well and city water will be affected in the long run where seepage into the water table will begin. Once this chemical begins leeching into the wells of families living in rural areas, the health effects could linger years to come. These toxic chemicals aren't going to just disappear.
Through it all the company responsible for the leak, Freedom Industries, has been irresponsible in communicating information to the public. The president of Freedom Industries, Gary Southern, gave a press conference on the spill where he at best came across as arrogant and well hydrated (repeatedly guzzling water from a bottle brought in from out of the area). Once again, absentee owners poison the people of West Virginia and those responsible for the environmental and socio-economic impact disappear behind a wall of money and network of attorneys.
The new questions we need to ask as a community, state, and nation all begin with "what".
What regulations need changing? What are some of the protocol we can put into place to prevent this delayed response in the future? Most importantly, what are we going to do as a community and state about the industries and companies that are destroying our beautiful state?
What are we, as citizens, going to do to protect ourselves from this level of pollution and destruction ever happening again?
Croteau and her family have lived near South Charleston for several generations.