By Eva J. Hewitt
This is a true story that concerns us.
On December 22, 2008 at 1am while people were sleeping the TVA retaining wall for coal ash broke. On December 22, 2008 our friend came by and told us about it. She saw it on the news . On Monday evening TVA came by and took us to a motel. We have no water and could not use the bathroom nor do dishes. We stayed one night at the Quality Inn in Harriman. They came and got us and our little dogs.
TVA brought us back home as they had water coming to our place. . They told us to boil the water. Before we boiled any I gave our little dogs a drink of water from the faucet. This was on Tuesday December 23, 2008. All three dogs got sick and threw up all the day. They could not even eat. It scared me.
United Mountain Defense brought us some spring water. My mouth was sore and I could not eat much. I went to the hospital over my mouth. At first they said it was a chemical burn. But when they wrote on my chart they wrote fungus or virus. The medicine they gave me was a mouth wash followed by a medicine that numbed my whole mouth. My granddaughter, Jessica’s hands break out in a rash every time she showers. I only use the water from the faucet to bath in, do dishes and was our clothes. When I wash clothes they come out rough as sandpaper.
My breathing had gotten bad since the ash slide. The road in front of where we live had ash on it from dump trucks going by every 5 to 6 minutes. We have to stand up there by the road and wait for the school bus, Monday through Friday. We were told those trucks are washed before going into the city. Ha that is a fib. For we have to walk to the store and into town. We see the trucks going and coming. They have a check point down the road from us when coming in Swan Pond Road. Also down by the railroad at the other side of us. If you don’t live up here or know the address where you’re going, you don’t come up Swan Pond Road. If you have trash and they see it at the check point, you are allowed to come and throw your trash away. But they time you. As I said we walk to the store. When we do I can’t hardly breath. Before the ash spill I could walk 5 miles without a breathing problem. They put an air monitor in our yard. To me that shows the air is dangerous.
We have been to the hospital 4 times sense the slide. I have breathing problems, Jessica with a rash. The slide destroyed this once nice place. We had a little deer that played in the field beside the house. There were rabbits and other small animals also around here.
But we have not seen those animals since. Also there were birds that flew over the trailer park, but since the slide we don’t see them. The lakes that were nice fishing places are no longer.
We used to walk by the lake and would see birds on the water and turtles. But that’s gone. A lot of people are leaving the area due to the air and water and the coal ash. Some of us have breathing problems and have to leave. This is very upsetting having to leave when you are settled in. Some own their houses others rent. It hurts everyone concerned. The slide could have been prevented if they would have checked the retaining wall like they should. They knew it was dangerous.
It is now January 2009. They are cleaning up the mess.
There is nothing to see except mud and ash. Where there once was a beautiful scene. Big trucks and machinery go up and down the road. A water truck waters the road about every 45 minute. That says it isn’t safe here. It is awful.
The other end of Swan Pond Circle has roads that are no longer, houses that got destroyed. Boats look like a child has gone mad and tore them up. Boat docks are no longer. Even the river was affected. Fish are floating on the water covered in ash. Yeah they put out water into home hoses from there. Is it safe? NO!
TVA sent our papers saying the water is safe. How can that be when there are dead fish floating on the water’s surface. They (TVA) are not telling us the truth. Holding the true goals from us. We were tested for arsenic and heavy metals in our system. The water company sent out a statement to the people saying the water is being tested for arsenic and heavy metals. So, you know, they know the water is not right. This place will never be the same. Even the land will never be the same. The ash that has been washed into the soil will not let anything grow on it. The land will never be the same again. If it is safe again, when? Who knows? It may never be the same like it was in 2008 when they were deer, rabbit, and birds of all kind flying around, plus small animals. No. This ash slide has destroyed a quiet neighborhood and upset a lot of lives.