President Obama is sending federal assistance to West Virginia, where schools and businesses are closed after a chemical spill Thursday into a Charleston river.
"The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of West Virginia and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts," said an administration statement on Friday morning.
Under the order, the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency will coordinate efforts with local officials.
From the Associated Press:
"Schools and restaurants closed, grocery stores sold out of bottled water, and state legislators who had just started their session canceled the day's business after a chemical spill in the Elk River in Charleston shut down much of the city and surrounding counties even as the cause and extent of the incident remained unclear.
"The federal government joined the state early Friday in declaring a disaster, and the West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties.
"Shortly after the Thursday night spill from a Freedom Industries hit the river and a nearby treatment plant, a licorice-like smell enveloped parts of the city, and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued an order to customer of West Virginia American Water: Do not drink, bathe, cook or wash clothes with tap water.
"The chemical, a foaming agent used in the coal preparation process, leaked from a tank at Freedom Industries, overran a containment area."