— — Local charities say they're well stocked with supplies following an outpouring of support from around the country after last week's chemical leak.
But while there are plenty of bottled water and paper products on hand, the charities still need funding to continue helping Kanawha Valley residents grappling with the after-effects of the leak.
Patti Phillips, Catholic Charities' director of development, said the recent water crisis could be devastating for low-income families or individuals on fixed budgets.
"The extra purchases they made of water and paper supplies has dipped into their food budget or their utilities," she said.
And because the contaminated water forced many businesses to close temporarily, some employees' paychecks will be significantly lower in the coming weeks.
Catholic Charities and the United Way of Central West Virginia hope to provide some relief by offering financial assistance to those who might have trouble making ends meet.
John Ballengee, executive director of the United Way of Central West Virginia, said it's important that people donate money to the relief fund because it's still unclear how many people will need assistance.
"We really don't have any idea whether it will be 100 people or 1,000 people," he said. "We want to be ready so we can help anybody that has a need."
Ballengee said the money would be distributed according to a set of criteria "to make sure we're identifying the folks that need the most help."
The United Way hasn't finalized those criteria yet, however.
To contribute to the Kanawha Valley Chemical Disaster Relief fund, contact Catholic Charities of West Virginia at 1-888-900-2989 or visit www.ccwva.org. You can also contact the United Way of Central West Virginia by visiting its website at www.unitedwaycwv.org or calling 304-340-3500.