Saturday, Jul 23, 2016
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Search for bottled water sends residents across town, state lines

Toledo's plight trending on social media

CTY-ToledoWaterProblem-Oregon

Firefighters and citizens work to fill containers with water at the fire station at 1102 S. Wheeling St. in Oregon.

The Blade/Isaac Hale
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With Toledo-area water unsafe for consuming, and nearby stores selling out of bottled water, people are going to great lengths – and distances – for water.

Just after 6 a.m., the Frenchtown Township Kroger, on Dixie Highway, which opened at 6, was nearly out of bottled water – nearly all the customers there were from Toledo. Pictures of long lines, over-stuffed shopping carts, empty grocery store aisles, and “out of water” signs‍ were filling up Twitter timelines, Facebook news feeds, and Instagram photo rolls.

People on social media have reported seeing Toledoans as far as Lima and Delware, Ohio, – all the way up to Ann Arbor – in search of water that's safe to drink. One woman said she drove to Angola, Ind., in search of bottled water but the Wal-Mart they stopped at was sold out. Her search continues.

Lima police are even urging their residents to let northwest Ohioans have dibs.

“Toxic water in Toledo right now. Please let Toledo residents get bottled water here. Our water is safe. They need it,” Lima police Tweeted from @LimaPolice, just before 10:40 a.m.

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins Tweeted, at about 11 a.m., “Everyone is advised to not panic. Ample supplies will soon be available. Please do not sell/scalp water supplies.”

Sam Melden, a West Toledo resident, said one of his neighbors – who drove 20 miles into Michigan to get water – brought his family a case of bottled water.

“We were sitting on the porch and he said he'd driven into Michigan … I offered to pay for it and he said, 'No, don't worry about it,' ” said Mr. Melden, who was on his way to an Oregon fire station to fill up a 5-gallon jug. “It's great. That's what Toledo neighborhoods are all about.”

The folks behind TedxToledo are asking people on social media to share stories of kindness even in the face of a water crisis by using #fullglasscity.

Peter Funk, a 20-year-old Bowling Green State University student, and his roommate, Aidan Aidan Hubbell-Staeble, 19, also a BGSU student, went out today and bought water bottles and filled them with Bowling Green water, which is safe to drink. The roommates were Toledo bound at about noon today hoping to give the water to those who need it.

“We're figuring whoever needs water (can have it),” said Mr. Funk, a Maumee native. “Obviously there are people who did go out and buy the water, but also people who can't afford water or who couldn't get access to it.”

In another West Toledo neighborhood, near Willys Parkway, people had created spray-painted signs warning people to not drink the water.

On Twitter, #emptyglasscity, first Tweeted by Toledoan Katie Warchol, on Twitter as @KMWarchol, is a nationally trending topic with more than 400 Tweets per hour.

People who are out of town are bringing water from Sandusky and Columbus to help their in-town friends.

Online, too, people are trying to rally around local restaurants which are closed today because of the water advisory. A date has not been set, but a support-local-restaurants day is being planned.

Police have reported people trying to sell bottles and pallets of water from the backs of their vehicles in store parking lots.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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