CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The United Way's West Virginia Emergency Fund is now able to accept donations through its website. Donors can visit www.unitedwaycwv.org
and click the "West Virginia Emergency Fund" icon on the home page.The fund was established this week in response to the economic impacts of the recent Elk River chemical leak. The accident left about 300,000 West Virginians in nine counties without water for nearly a week, and some people were still under the "do-not-use" ban Thursday.The United Way wants to help those in the service sector who have lost part of their income after many restaurants, stores and hotels were forced to close, according to president John Ballengee. The fund will be similar to other utility aid funds, and will be available to help workers with water, sewage, electric, gas and other household bills, and applicants will need to prove their employment status and that they lost work during the crisis.The United Way hopes to have a sizeable emergency fund in place within the next week or two, and Ballengee hopes the agency will be able to announce that the fund is open for applications by Jan. 27. The United Way plans to partner with other area agencies, including Covenant House, the Salvation Army, Mountain Mission, Heart and Hand and EnAct of Putnam County, to help distribute funds to the nine counties impacted by the leak.