CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s been a decade since “the unknown” happened in West Virginia, according to former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin whose administration responded to a major chemical spill on Jan. 9, 2014.

Tomblin immediately issued a “Do Not Use” order for customers of West Virginia American Water Company.

“Do not drink it. Do not cook with it. Do not wash clothes in it. Do not take a bath in it,” Tomblin warned during a press conference following the Freedom Industries spill in the Elk River in Charleston.

The water crisis impacted 300,000 people in parts of nine West Virginia counties. The spill had forced residents to avoid using tap water due to contamination and seek bottled water to cook, shower and consume.

“I can remember it almost like it was yesterday,” Tomblin told MetroNews in an interview Monday, the day before the 10-year anniversary of the leak. “It was toward the end of the day somewhere 4:30-5 o’clock when the message first came to me that this chemical spill had been found and nobody knows what the chemicals are.”

Tomblin had just given his State of the State address at the state Capitol the night before. The news came down at the end of the second day of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session.

Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin was serving as the communications director for Tomblin’s office at the time. She said she also feels like the crisis was “just yesterday” when then-state Adjutant General Maj. Jim Hoyer alerted her about the incident.

“If you know General Hoyer, his voice is very distinct coming down the hall saying ‘I need to talk to Amy. We need folks in the governor’s briefing room.’ I remember going home two days later because it truly was a crisis,” Goodwin said.

The chemical, later discovered as MCHM, made it into the West Virginia American Water Company Elk River Plant in Charleston.

“This incident is extremely unfortunate, unanticipated and we are very, very sorry for the disruption to everybody’s daily life that this incident has caused,” former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern said following the spill.

Tomblin said, along with state environmental and health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was brought into West Virginia to help determine health impacts of the contaminated water and what that would mean for residents in the days ahead.

“It was a very trying few days. We contacted every expert across the country that had any knowledge of this stuff to get them into West Virginia to help us out with it,” he said.

Vulnerable populations were top of mind for government officials, Goodwin said.

“A day seems like a year and for a lot of families that we were concerned about, certainly our elderly and our homes with small babies and small children,” she said.

Goodwin had two young boys of her own at the time and said she worried about her family in addition to the 300,000 state residents.

“I worried about my own kids at the time,” she said. “It really teaches you resiliency and it teaches you that you can get through hard times.”

The mayor said, even 10 years later, people still bring up the chemical spill because it really was an unprecedented event that affected so many people.

The West Virginia Rivers Coalition plans to host a 10-year anniversary event at the state Culture Center in Charleston beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday.