CHARLESTON, W. Va — In response to a chemical spill into a local river, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency Thursday and issued a ban on using tap water in nine counties, angering many residents who found it presumptuous that state officials now assume a majority of the citizenry has access to indoor plumbing.
“I’ve lived in West Virginia my whole life, and this is the absolute first time an elected official has acted on the premise that we enjoy 21st-Century standards of living,” said Dane Whittemore, 39, a lumberjack from Danville. “I’ve never been so angered.”
“Maybe they should advise us what we should do with our private jets and aircraft carriers too. This is West Virginia, goddammit, not some wonderland where the streets are paved with gold, like Palm Beach or Akron, Ohio,” said Megan Cameron, 29, of Griffithsville.
The drama unfolded Thursday when investigators from the Kanawha County Fire Department and the state Department of Environmental Protection, acting on reports of foul odors in the air, discovered a leak from a 48,000-gallon storage tank along the Elk River, which serves as the source of water for the 1,500 miles of pipeline that carry water to customers in “highfalutin places where they’re too good to bathe in a pond or brush their teeth with boiled water.”
“They told us the water’s only safe for flushing,” recalled Mike Hannsfield, 33, of Pratt. “It’s disgusting how out of touch politicians have become. Not only are they implying we all have a toilet, they’re implying the average citizen has multiple outlets to outside sources of water in the house.”
“Look here, I don’t care if that’s the script you read when a disaster happens in a fancy place like Alabama, but here in West Virginia we don’t need no bureaucrat with his uppity high school degree suggesting that in America, everyone has modern conveniences. What’s next, you’re going to assume we all have cable TV, too?” added Hannsfield.
While no timeline for the end of the emergency has yet been announced, officials are not taking any chances and have closed schools in five counties, incensing West Virginians who were unaware that their tax dollars were being spent on “nonsense like book-learning.”