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Published: Monday, 8/4/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

Distribution centers offer free relief

Community continues to search for water, other beverages

BY MARISSA MEDANSKY AND MATT THOMPSON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Melvin Newton of Toledo carries cases he received at the water distribution center sponsored by the Cherry Street Mission. Melvin Newton of Toledo carries cases he received at the water distribution center sponsored by the Cherry Street Mission.
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Deborah Adams biked downtown through the summer heat, arriving at the old Macomber building to grab a free case of water bottles from outside.

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

She’s grateful for the donation, of course. But the water is hard to carry without a car. One volunteer helped Ms. Adams affix the crate to her bicycle before she pedaled home.

Toledoans like Ms. Adams flocked to distribution centers on Sunday 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.

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The water at the Macomber building 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 went 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.

Dan Rogers, right, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries, helps organize the free water distribution area at the former Macomber High School on Sunday, the second day of a water emergency. Dan Rogers, right, president and CEO of Cherry Street Mission Ministries, helps organize the free water distribution area at the former Macomber High School on Sunday, the second day of a water emergency.
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“That’s what so cool, is the shelters helping each other,” Mr. Leslie said.

By 9:45 a.m., the line for water wrapped around the building, with cars spanning blocks down the street. Toledoan Michael Fears, 55, and his daughter waited for water for their family, including special “pet water” for Daichi, the family’s four-year-old Great Dane. Mr. Fears said Daichi used to drink his fill from the bathtub, but that’s no longer possible. After the family cat drank water from the toilet, she spent the morning vomiting.

“I hope this ends quickly, because we’re spending money on water we don’t need to spend,” Mr. Fears 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.

In Michigan, several filling stations provided Monroe County residents with drinking water. Kim Comerzan, a health official for the county, said she anticipates the stations will operate today if Toledo’s drinking-water ban continues.

Staff Sgt. Josh Reiss, left, and Staff Sgt. Brock Mowry of the 200th Red Horse Engineers fill a cooler from a ‘‍water buffalo’ with water purified by the Air Force. Staff Sgt. Josh Reiss, left, and Staff Sgt. Brock Mowry of the 200th Red Horse Engineers fill a cooler from a ‘‍water buffalo’ with water purified by the Air Force.
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Perrysburg Mayor Mike Olmstead was greeting residents all afternoon at Perrysburg High School's baseball fields as they brought bottles and coolers to fill with water.

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

Tanya Mackiewicz, a Perrysburg resident, was there to collect water to clean her young daughter's bottles and some dishes at home.

“We’re going to Bowling Green for dinner tonight because we can’t make any,” she said.

She’s needed a lot of bottled water with her husband, four children, and a cousin staying with them, plus the family dog. They were able to pick up water from Meijer in Rossford Saturday night.

Sylvania’s closest water station is Springfield High School, but Mayor Craig Stough said Sylvania residents have been doing just fine.

“We’ve gotten a few emails but no one is frustrated,” he said. “If people contact us and need water, the police and fire have been making home-bound trips to distribute water.”

He did say there are talks about trying to set up a water station at Southview High School if needed today.

In Perrysburg, the water station at the Perrysburg High School Baseball Fields on Fort Meigs Road were scheduled to be open today from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Contact Marissa Medansky at: mmedansky@theblade.com or 419-724-6368. 

Contact Matt Thompson at: mthompson@theblade.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.



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