By Jonathan Wright
The recent water crisis in the Kanawha Valley and beyond is more proof positive that normal, daily life is always, at any moment, hanging by no more than a thread.
In the blink of an eye everything can change.
We learned this very precisely after the derecho storm of June 2012. In the mere half-hour it took for the merciless sustained winds to blow through our area, our lives were turned upside down, it seemed.
It was bad enough not having electricity and dealing with very limited gasoline outlets in the blazing-hot aftermath of that ferocious weather event.
But the lack of water was an enormous added blow to many people throughout the region.
That’s what approximately 300,000 people in our state have been dealing with the past week or so. When you have no water, your daily routine is instantly disrupted big-time.
It’s simple: turn on the spigot, and out comes clear, clean, safe, water. Most of us don’t give it a second thought.
But in the rare times you’re without it, you quickly realize how many times a day and for how many different uses you reach for it—kind of like unthinkingly reaching for the light switch when you know the power is out.
In addition to the personal inconvenience so many have experienced is that of countless businesses. Restaurants especially, and any other businesses that depend heavily on clean water for their daily operations, have had to shut down temporarily, losing untold revenue as a result.
The magnitude of the crisis is hard to grasp, but we’re aware of enough to realize what huge inconvenience the lack of water has on people. Suddenly the major focus of the day is simply to locate bottled water, which quickly and predictably flies off store shelves faster than most folks can get there.
Then, of course, thanks to the benevolence of people from unaffected areas—many of them far, far away—kicks in, and before you know it distribution centers are set up to get the precious commodity out to all who will simply show up to receive it.
Although there are certainly worse disasters that can bring one’s daily routine to a standstill, the loss of water ranks right up there among the top.
We here in the Greenbrier Valley are fortunate that the recent crisis did not affect our own water supply. Nevertheless, we know all too well that another water crisis of our own could happen at any time right here.
And when it happens, of course, we know how quickly life can change.
Fortunately, we have excellent disaster response agencies in place here in our area who are trained to move into action quickly and decisively should the need arise.
In the meantime, we should all be grateful for each new day that dawns normal and routine. Preparation for the alternative should always be in the backs of our minds.