Salem-area residents stocking up on bottled water after advisory - KPTV - FOX 12

Salem-area residents stocking up on bottled water after advisory issued

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(KPTV/Marilyn Deutsch) (KPTV/Marilyn Deutsch)

Salem-area residents are now stocking up on bottled water after the city sent out an advisory not to drink tap water due to low levels of cyanotoxins.

The city of Salem issued an advisory Tuesday that said low levels of cylindrospermopsin and microcystin were found in treated drinking water. The toxins are created by algae blooms in Detroit Lake, the source of the city of Salem’s drinking water.

Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management said an alert was requested by the city of Salem to notify residents about the water advisory. OEM said they had a technical error when sending the message, and the glitch caused the message to default to "civil emergency" verbiage, which sent much of the state into a panic.

The alert read, “Civil Emergency in this area until 11:28PM PDT Prepare for Action OEM,1, OR.” 

A lot of people received that emergency alert on their phones. FOX 12 spoke with one woman who was absolutely terrified by the alert.

"My phone was just ringing and alerting and sounding off. I didn't know what was happening. First thing I was thinking is we where being bombed, and it says take action. What action am I supposed to take? Go to a fallout shelter?" said Debra Cox. "They scared a lot of people. I can't even imagine what an elderly lady, what a little old lady, sitting in her  chair, gets an alert like that. What is she supposed to do?"

On Wednesday morning, residents lined up at local grocery stores to stock up on bottled water.

FOX 12 spoke with one man who was buying water for washing vegetables and cooking. Other shoppers were buying for their own homes and for others.

"My mom got scared - lives in assisted living right here - so I thought I would bring her some water," said Robin Grimes, who was buying bottled water. "You have to take precautions."

At one Fred Meyer location, employees say they started with 25 pallets of bottled water stacked 6-feet high. Two hours after they opened, all of that water was gone and they had to stack up another load.

The Salem-Keizer School District stated bottled water would be offered in schools for pre-kindergarten through first grade, as well as for medically fragile or pregnant students and staff. The preparation of meals would also be altered, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to administrators.

The advisory is in effect until at least Thursday. In the meantime, the city of Salem will continue to treat the water to try and make it safe for everyone to drink.

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