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Wednesday, October 01, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 8/3/2014

Toledoans flock to distribution centers

Residents collect free crates of water, other beverages

BLADE STAFF

Deborah Adams biked downtown through the summer heat, arriving at the old Macomber building downtown to grab a free case of water bottles from outside.

“I’m a diabetic,” explained Ms. Adams, 56. “I need that water.”

Toledoans like Ms. Adams flocked to distribution centers today to collect free crates of water and other beverages. Some had cars, but many came without vehicles and had to haul the heavy boxes themselves. Others used grocery carts, children’‍s strollers, and even the platforms of motorized scooters as makeshift devices to transport the water.

The water at the Macomber came from a local disaster relief nonprofit, said Ken Leslie, the founder of the homelessness awareness group 1Matters, as he orchestrated a group of volunteers from local missions, shelters, and churches. Some of the donations came downtown for public distribution, while others were delivered to shelters and other service organizations, many of which cooperated with one another to get the donations in on time.

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“That’s what so cool, is the shelters helping each other,” Mr. Leslie said.

At Woodward High School, the National Guard’s 200th Red Horse Squadron arrived to distribute water in the parking lot. There, too, the queue for water contained dozens of cars. Volunteers estimated that their site, one of three Toledo locations where the National Guard was present, had served well over 1,000 people before noon.

“Once the bags and the bottles started coming, it started getting busy,” said volunteer Denny Whaley, 39, who works at the high school.

North in Michigan, several filling stations catered to Monroe County residents with potable and nonpotable water alike. Kim Comerzan, a health official for the county, said she anticipates the stations will operate Monday if the water situation continues.

Perrysburg Mayor Mike Olmstead was greeting residents all afternoon today at Perrysburg High School's baseball fields as they brought bottles, coolers, and even plastic clothes containers to fill with water.

"We've had a steady 15-20 cars [waiting] in the lot continuously since we opened at about 12:45 p.m.," Mayor Olmstead said at about 5 p.m. "We're not running out and we have adequate water for fire suppression too."



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