Water crisis washes out Chapmanville at Poca game

By Paul Adkins Sports Editor

January 12, 2014

With no clean water in much of the Charleston area and the surrounding nine-county region, the prudent thing to do was to cancel the Chapmanville at Poca boys’ basketball game on Friday night.

That was exactly what transpired as school officials at Poca High School decided to postpone the high school contest between the Dots and Tigers at Poca.

No makeup date has been announced.

The postponement was a result of a chemical spill on Thursday at a Freedom Industries plant which left Charleston in a standstill and its citizens scrambling to area and regional grocery stores as far away as Logan in the search for water.

Brisk water sales were reported at area supermarkets as far away as Logan County. The Logan Walmart’s water shelves were almost completely empty on Thursday evening at the beginning of the crisis.

At least 100,000 customers in nine West Virginia counties were told not to drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes using their tap water because of a chemical spill into the Elk River in Charleston. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Chapmanville native, declared a state of emergency Thursday for all those areas and held a press conference on Friday afternoon.

The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries, overran a containment area and went into the Elk River earlier Thursday. The amount that spilled wasn’t immediately known, but West Virginia American Water has a treatment plant nearby and it is the company’s customers who are affected.

Poca High School, located in Putnam County, was one of the affected areas.

The don’t-drink-the-water declaration involves customers in the counties of Kanawha, Boone, Cabell, Clay, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Putnam and Roane.

In Logan County, only a handful of residents in the Sharples area receive its water from the affected West Virginia American Water. Reportedly, around 60 households in the far eastern part of Logan County near the Boone County line get their water from West Virginia American Water.

It is not known when the water in the affected areas will be deemed safe to drink and use. The water was being tested on Friday by water quality experts for the contaminants. Water testing was still ongoing on Saturday morning and the no use declaration was still in effect. Scattered health problems were reported in the Charleston region.

In the meantime, there was no basketball game on Friday night.

The Chapmanville boys had entered the game at 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the Cardinal Conference.

It was the second straight CRHS game called off.

The Tigers’ contest on Tuesday night at Lincoln County was cancelled due to winter weather and the arctic cold which gripped most of the eastern part of the country earlier in the week and plunged temperatures to two below zero and wind chills to 10 below in the Logan area.

Chapmanville is now scheduled to return to action next Tuesday at home against county rival Man. It’s the first of two meetings this season between the Tigers and the Hillbillies.

The Tigers then play at Mingo Central next Wednesday before hosting Sissonville next Saturday night.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.