Water contamination stresses taking toll on residents; church program steps up to help

HOOSICK FALLS - A local church group is stepping forward to help those dealing with the water crisis in Hoosick Falls.

It has been months now since the people who live in the Rensselaer County village were told not to drink the water. A chemical called PFOA, which is linked to cancer and other health issues, was found in dangerous levels in the village water supply.

Since that time, living in Hoosick Falls with no drinkable running water has become hectic, especially for the Allen family.

"We don't bathe as often. Not even close to what we use to do," Heather Allen said.

Allen heats up bottled water to wash little faces and for brushing teeth she created a contraption using a cooler with a spigot and a bowl to make sure her four young kids remember not to use the tap. Usually it is she and her husband who forget.

"You'll hear us brushing our teeth and, 'Ah! Did you do it again?' 'I did it again.'"

Allen laughs now but she admits the contamination has taken away precious time and added stress to every single day.

"At first it was devastating but I try to remember there are people all over the world that have water that makes them sick and they don't have a choice," Allen said.

The constant mental and emotional strains in Hoosick Falls are something church goers are silently praying about but Bob Woodward and Sandy Dooley, who both are ministry leaders of a faith-based support group, wanted to make sure people could be heard by their neighbors, if they want to.

"That's why we wanted to let people know, not everybody knows, we're here," Dooley said.

Every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. the faith-based 12-step program Celebrate Recovery meets at the Hoosick Falls Community Alliance Church and its members listen.

"Alcohol, co-dependency, low self esteem, addictions," Woodward said.

The two ministry leaders say the stresses from the water crisis is the newest issue they are here to help with. They say Celebrate Recovery is there to support anyone who wants to come and talk or just observe.

"We will get through this. We're a strong community. We're strong people so we can get through this, it's just going to be one step at a time," Dooley said.

The weekly meetings are held in the church sanctuary and are completely anonymous, so people can come confidentially and speak freely about anything.

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