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Water services return to homes in Gary but problems continue for residents and businesses

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Water is flowing back into the homes of Gary residents, but there are still some issues.

"We're very happy that the water is on because we need water for our bathrooms and washing dishes, and taking a bath. But we still can't drink the water. This is our water, it cleared up some but the odor is so bad," Church Clerk, Shirley Reed of the Rock Hill Missionary Baptist Church said.

The smell of the water isn't the only issue. Local businesses are suffering as well.

"He we go again, cancel, cancel, cancel. COVID, water losing, we're losing more money. I didn't mind not having water, I just hate that we're losing business again. Nobody's going to step up and say: "Here we know you lost $1,800 this week," Eva's House Bed and Breakfast Owner, Sandi Fletcher Blankenship said.

Residents say it's hard to leave the conditions they are faced with because it's their home.

"We've been here most of our lives, and most of us are senior citizens. Our homes are already paid for, why would we leave our homes, and go pay rent somewhere else," one resident explained.

A meeting was held Wednesday with state officials and local leaders to develop long term solutions to the water crisis in the area. The temporary solution of only one pump running doesn't relieve the worries of some community members.

"Do we recover to completely recover, or do we recover long enough to prepare for the next time," Blankenship said.

Gary isn't the only city in McDowell County suffering. Families in Keystone have water issues that have put them on an 8-year water boil advisory. Despite their situation, they still find ways to help out their neighbors.

"I live in McDowell County myself and we often struggle with not having water. A lot of things that we miss out in getting donated is baby wipes, disposable paper towels, and plates. We you don't have running water. You don't realize how hard it is to wash yourself with just bottled water. Baby wipes can be used to wash your hands, legs and arms especially during a pandemic. It's important to be able to clean yourself," Appalachia Mountain Flows Director, Tori Satow said.

"We came down from Mineral Wells, West Virginia, just south of Parkersburg. These people down here need water especially during a pandemic to wash their hands, to drink fresh water, and stay healthy," Volunteer, Steven Brown said.

As for now, the residents are still opting to use bottled water until their 7-day water boil advisory is over.

Star Connor

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