Emergency Fund helps workers recover lost wages after chemical s - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Emergency Fund helps workers recover lost wages after chemical spill

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The United Way of Central West Virginia has set up a special Emergency Fund designed to give a financial boost to those who lost wages after crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River The United Way of Central West Virginia has set up a special Emergency Fund designed to give a financial boost to those who lost wages after crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River

The United Way of Central West Virginia has set up a special Emergency Fund designed to give a financial boost to those who lost wages after crude MCHM leaked into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for hundreds of thousands of West Virginia American Water customers.

Vicki Watts is a server at Tidewater Grill in Charleston. The restaurant was forced to shut down when the spilled happened for several days, while it waited for clean and safe water to be shipped in.

"We work day to day, live day to day by the money we make," she said. "There was no money to be made and even afterwards it was pretty slow for a couple of weeks."

While the restaurant was closed, Watts said she lost a week's worth of wages. And although the restaurant has opened up and is continuing to use bottled water, she is still making about a quarter of what she normally would make.

Watts applied for the United Way's Emergency Fund to receive financial help.

"I'm still trying to catch up, we're still playing catch up but without that help my electric would have been shut off," she said.

The United Way's Emergency Fund offers affected workers up to $200 in assistance to help pay upcoming utility bills. According to the group's executive director, the fund as raised more than $101,000 and has distributed half of that to 300 people so far.

"If we can stand up as a community and say we can help you with that. We can help you through this situation and get people back on their feet and help them through a difficult time, that's what the community is all about and that is what United Ways is all about," said John Ballengee, executive director of the local chapter.

According to Ballengee, both individuals and businesses have donated to the fund. Corporate and organizational donors include the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water.

The fund will continue to take applicants until Feb. 21. To apply, affected workers can visit www.unitedwaycw.org. Applicants will need to provide a recent paycheck stub, a valid form of government ID, the emergency fund application form and current utility bills.