Water System Contaminations Follow Kentucky Flooding
Water is a remarkable thing. We desperately need drinking water for our survival. We also require it for cleansing our bodies, washing our clothes and cleaning a wide variety of items.
But too much water can be destructive and deadly. We saw a prime example late last month when floodwaters resulted in the deaths of at least 37 people in Eastern Kentucky.
There's another big problem that comes from an excess amount of water. Especially when it's caused by extreme weather.
And that problem is water contamination. Floodwaters carry sewage and other pollutants. Contaminated water invariably finds its way into drinking water supplies.
Some Water Systems 'Wiped Out'
Floodwaters from 8 to 10.5 inches of rainfall in 48 hours damaged water systems in Eastern Kentucky.
The historical flooding that occurred in the Appalachian region was quickly followed by hot and humid weather. This added to the dilemma for residents dealing with wreckage to their homes. Parts of Virginia and West Virginia were also affected.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said water service had been restored to many in the region. But added that some water systems were heavily damaged or "wiped out."
Approximately 13,500 water service connections were still without water days after the flooding. Another 41,000 service connections had boil advisories.
"It's going to take significant time and significant dollars to restore what was destroyed," the governor said. He estimated it would require anywhere from weeks to months.
Businesses Rally for the Community
Among state businesses that stepped up to assist in the relief efforts was the Kentucky Distillers' Association.
They sent tankers and totes of water to the region that would normally have been used for their products.
Walmart, Sam's Club and the Walmart Foundation have committed $750,000 in water, food and funding to organizations providing relief.
Walmart truck drivers delivered water and other essential supplies to some of the hardest-hit areas. They also deployed the Mobile Relief Kitchen to prepare meals for flood victims.
Tyson Foods and Bimbo Bakeries made food contributions. Procter & Gamble also got involved with cleaning supplies to help stave off the risk of diseases and bacterial infections often occurring following major flooding.
Relief Package Plans Moving Forward
Plans are in the works for a relief package. But it will require a special legislative session. That package would ideally contain aid to repair the water systems.
Beshear said the first portion of the relief funds will be distributed to pay for funeral costs incurred by families of the flood victims.
Schools will also need considerable assistance. The estimated cost for repairs to schools will be at least tens of millions of dollars.
Had it not been for prompt rescue efforts, the death toll would have been much higher. Some 1,300 people were rescued via boats and helicopters. Including those who had climbed on roofs and up in trees to escape the water.
Many of those fortunate enough to evacuate in time were in emergency shelters and state parks. Cooling centers were also opened.
Bottled Water Rushed to Victims
At last count, National Guardsmen had delivered more than 11,600 cases of bottled water.
"We're going to deliver water until these counties and areas beg us to stop delivering water," Beshear said. "As hot as it is, with as many systems that are out, we want a mountain of water there."
One Knott County resident said she was going through five cases of water per day. Mainly for drinking and cleaning her mud-caked possessions that can be salvaged.
After being reconnected to the local water system, she said her family was hesitant to use the water for anything other than washing, due to its "murky" appearance.
Rains Overwhelm Systems
Public water systems are not the only ones negatively affected by extreme flooding. Private wells and springs also fall victim to it.
After rainfall hits the ground, it comes into contact with animal waste and bacteria. Normally, that's not particularly significant.
But when rains become too heavy and long lasting, bacteria, sewage and other industrial waste and chemicals also seep into water sources or leaky pipes.
The large amounts of water also make it more difficult for water treatment devices to treat water efficiently and effectively.
It Could Happen to Us Too
Nearly all of us could experience flooding resulting in water contamination at any time.
The keys for preparation are to have plenty of clean drinking water stored up for an emergency, and have a way to filter and purify water we may have to drink that comes from potentially contaminated sources.
One of the best ways to filter your water at home is with the Patriot Pure Pitcher. It's crucial to your health to be prepared with a filter that can be used for everyday situations. As well as for emergencies such as the one folks in Kentucky just went through.
The Patriot Pure Pitcher will allow you to do both. It filters up to 99.99% of radiological contaminants like uranium, plutonium and others. As well as heavy metals including lead, mercury and chromium 6.
Simple to use, it holds up to a gallon of water and the filter lasts for 150 gallons. Made in the USA, it's BPA-free.