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Columbus Leader Ready to Respond to Chemical Spill Similar to WV

NORTH COLUMBUS (James Jackson) -- Hundreds of thousands of people left without any water to drink, bathe, or any use except flushing toilets, after chemicals leaked into a river. In Charleston West Virginia, the water supply is contaminated in nine counties. Crews are now having to truck in thousands of bottles of water, because they've run out. Authorities say they have no idea how long this warning will last.

Tonight, Columbus city leaders tell ABC 6/FOX 28 if, in fact, the city is ready for a similar scenario.

Part of Yolanda Robinson's new year's resolution is to buy more bottled water for her home in Cumberland Ridge, on Columbus' North side. "I need to have more water in my house just in case of an emergency," Robinson said.

Robinson's originally from West Virginia and has relatives there, who could be affected by the chemical emergency. A spill compromised water to some 300,000 people. It's a crisis that has Robinson concerned. "It makes me want to be more connected to my family. We haven't talked in a long time," Robinson said.

State water officials there say at this point, they don't know if the water is safe. It's been that way since Thursday. ABC 6/FOX 28 asked Columbus public utilities officials if they were ready for a similar catastrophe. They couldn't say much. But, they did say there's a plan in place, in case there's a chemical spill. George Zonders is a department spokesperson. "We spend time A: Trying to figure out what could happen. B: What would we do in the event of those things happening," Zonders said.

If it does happen, utilities officials say several agencies will come prepared. "Organizations at the city, countywide and even at the state level that would immediately respond," Zonders said.

In fact, department employees say they're already ahead of the curve, keeping an eye on the situation in West Virginia and learning from it. That's reassuring for Yolanda Robinson. "It is really good to know that they do have a plan. I'm just hoping that all of us know the plan," Robinson said.

Utilities officials tell ABC 6/FOX 28 it's not just a water catastrophe they're ready for. They also prepare for sewer and power issues around the clock.
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