By BRIAN BOHNERT
Many Fostorians came together Sunday to help refill an empty “Glass City.”
For a 12-hour period, the city of Fostoria collected donations to help those affected by the devastating Lake Erie contamination that rendered approximately 500,000 people without safe tap water.
From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, the city and Fostoria Fire Division, with the assistance of volunteers from the New Life Family Worship Center, collected: water; wet wipes; hand sanitizer; food (which does not require water to fix); paper plates; plastic utensils (forks, spoons, etc.); and other items that could be helpful to Lucas County residents impacted by the water crisis.
Donations were accepted all day Sunday at Fostoria Fire Department, 233 W. South St. Boxes of canned goods, non-perishable foods, paper products and disposable utensils lined a good portion of the fire station’s garage Sunday with dozens of cases of bottled water taking up the majority of floor space.
Mayor Eric Keckler, who spent most of the day at the station, said he was amazed by the number of people who came out to donate, given that the initiative was solely generated via social media at around 7 p.m. Saturday.
“I am so proud to be a Fostorian because of the way people turned out today,” Keckler said Sunday evening. “This was way past my expectations. It doesn’t surprise me that the people in Fostoria are this generous; Fostoria has always been a giving community. It just surprises me that we had the response we had in that short a period of time.”
As of 8 p.m. Sunday, Keckler said the city received a total of: 230 cases of bottled water; 40 one-gallon jugs of water; a dozen cases of Vitamin Water; 4,000 paper plates; 500 paper bowls; 2,000 pieces of plastic utensils; 700 disposable cups; 200-250 disinfectant wipes; assorted grocery items; and, nearly 100 cans of vegetables.
Keckler said he and his volunteers, which included Safety Service Director Allyson Murray and Fostoria Economic Development Corporation President Renee Smith, will pass inventory information on to Seneca County EMA Director Dan Stahl, who has been in contact with representatives of the American Red Cross.
“We’re going to leave it up to the Red Cross to decide where everything goes, but we’d really like to get everything to the people who need it the most,” Keckler said. “People like those who are shut in and cannot get out to get the water themselves.”
In a Sunday evening interview with the Review Times, Stahl said the mayor will likely get his wish as the Red Cross has decided to use the donated items for its home-bound population.
“When your neighbors are down, you need to help them,” Stahl said. “I think Fostoria is a really good example of a situation when people in a community are getting together and helping their neighbors.”
Keckler said crews with Fostoria Street Department will transport the items to the Red Cross in Toledo first thing this morning. Additionally, Keckler said Alpha Coatings has agreed to donate its services by wrapping all pallets of goods in plastic to ensure the items make the trip up north safely.
Other individuals in the community were taking matters into their own hands this weekend by packing water and supplies into their vehicles and driving up to Toledo to participate in the relief effort.
Shortly after midnight Saturday, the city of Toledo ordered residents of Lucas County not to drink tap water after a toxin known as microcystin was found in samples taken from the Collins Park Water Treatment Plant in Toledo.
The toxins, which came as a result of a sudden bloom of harmful algae in Lake Erie, were well above the standards considered safe for human consumption, according to The Associated Press.
Consumption of the water could cause vomiting, skin rashes, cramping and even liver damage. Health officials initially advised everyone against bathing in the water, but later said it was safe for healthy adults to do so.
Ohio Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency in response to the water crisis Saturday so the state could send water and supplies to the metro Toledo area, if need be.
Stahl, who frequently takes part in drills designed to prepare for all sorts of catastrophes, said this is unlike anything he has ever seen before.
“I don’t know when this is going to end, but I hope it ends soon because this is a major situation. I don’t think people realize how big this is for the people up there” Stahl said. “Imagine this happening in Fostoria. It’d be catastrophic to a small community, let alone a place with a half-million people.”
Fostoria’s Water Supply
While local officials assured citizens the water supply in Fostoria was not in any danger, Toledo’s water woes reached the city’s borders as many descended upon Fostoria, Findlay, Tiffin and the surrounding areas to buy up as much H2O as they could.
By 10 a.m. Saturday, the Kroger store on West High Street was out of bottled and gallon-sized water to sell. However, water was still available at the store’s refill station to those providing their own containers.
Shortly thereafter, the Great Scot on Plaza Drive also found itself going through a dry spell. People flocked from all across the Toledo area Saturday morning, clearing store shelves before the noon hour.
Myles Monday, customer service representative with the High Street Kroger store, said his location received a shipment of water at approximately 4 a.m. Sunday. However, the store again found itself drained of Kroger brand water by the late afternoon, leaving only cases of Dasani brand water lining store aisles.
Kroger is selling cases of Dasani for two for $9 with a limit of four per customer.
Mike Love, store manager at the Plaza Drive Great Scot, was unavailable for comment at the time of this report.
According to multiple published reports, The health department advised the following to all those affected by the water crisis:
1. Healthy adults are permitted to bathe, wash their hands and shower. Children may bathe as long as they are under the supervision of an adult to prevent accidental consumption.
2. No one is to drink tap water until health officials release a statement saying it is safe to do so.
3. Tap water is not to be used for cooking purposes until it is deemed by health officials as safe to do so.
4. Tap water is not to be boiled. Boiling the water has been said to be ineffective.
5. Using and flushing the toilet is permitted.
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