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Residents Take Water Emergency in Stride With AM-Fuel Spill, Bjt

January 8, 1988

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (AP) _ Residents on Friday hoarded water in bathtubs, shared bottles of it with neighbors and stayed home as schools and businesses closed because of a diesel fuel spill that contaminated the Ohio River.

″I had a bottle in (the river) last night, and I pulled it out and couldn’t believe it,″ Mayor David Hindman said. ″It’s the craziest looking stuff in the world.″

Only essential businesses, including hospitals, doctors’ offices, drug stores and grocery stores, were allowed to open under an emergency declaration designed to encourage water conservation.

People who ventured downtown - mostly emergency workers, lawyers and others headed to do business at the Jefferson County Courthouse - were more concerned with who was aboard a National Guard helicopter that touched down in a nearby vacant parking lot than with the condition of the river water.

″See that? Every day people moan and groan about this river and how dirty it is, but when something gets in it like this, everybody shows up,″ said an elderly man from Mingo Junction, a city about three miles south of here.

He wouldn’t give his name, but he freely offered shower space to several passersby.

The city was operating off reserve water supplies because of a massive spill Saturday night that sent diesel oil streaming more than 75 miles through three states. The emergency was declared when ice on the river blocked the spill near the area where Steubenville draws water from the river.

Ed Bober, manager of a drug store a block away from a command post that took over much of City Hall, said his store sold out of distilled water two days ago.

About 250 more cases are on order, but they are not expected to arrive inking due. We have the tub half full of water. We’re watching what water we have,″ Corabi said. His wife and three children were sharing water they obtained from one of 21, 400-gallon tankers supplied by the Ohio National Guard.

William Fisher, a Red Cross volunteer and county disaster services assistant, said he filled his 250-gallon whirlpool tub with water.

″I guess I’ll have to forego the pleasures of my Jacuzzi,″ he said, laughing. ″I’ll have to use it for more utilitarian purposes, to see how the peasants live.″

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