Residents in Toledo, Ohio, have been warned not to drink from the city’s water supply after it was revealed Saturday that toxins were contaminating the water.
The governor has issued a state of emergency, and residents have been scrambling to local grocery stores in hopes of getting their hands on cases of bottled water.
Recent tests of the city’s water supply revealed that toxins, possibly from algae on Lake Erie, have caused a spike in microsystin in the water.
The levels of microsystin are currently fatal to animals and could cause humans to get sick.
The city’s mayor, D. Michael Collins, also told the residents that it was not safe to boil the water before using it because this could actually cause the toxins to become more concentrated.
With roughly 400,000 residents being advised not to drink, brush their teeth or even bathe with the water, grocery stores are struggling to keep any water on the shelves.
“It looked like Black Friday,” said Toledo resident Aundrea Simmons who was waiting in line to buy four cases of water. “I have children and elderly parents. They take their medication with water.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich is not sure how long the advisory will be in effect.
“We don’t really want to speculate on this,” he told The Associated Press. “When it comes to this water, we’ve got to be very careful.”
He added that he understands how frustrating this situation is for residents but assures the people of Toledo that a solution is on the way.
While the cause of the sudden spike in toxins has not been confirmed, it is believed that the toxins came from an unexpected algae bloom.
In recent years, algae blooms have become more frequent at the western end of Lake Erie, but scientists predicted the large bloom would not occur until September.
The state has already started bringing in water to the Toledo area, and other organizations like the Red Cross have been spotted distributing water to families in need.
Grocery store chains are being asked to divert as much water as they possibly can to stores in Toledo, and large containers of water are being filled at a prison about 130 miles north of the city, according to the spokesman for the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
City officials had hoped to have an update about how long the advisory would last by Saturday night, but no new information was released as of Sunday morning.
It was reported that stores up to 50 miles away were reporting bottled water shortages as residents flocked to their stores.
Neighboring communities are offering free water for residents who come in with their own containers to fill up.
No reports have surfaced of anyone becoming seriously ill after consuming the water.